Allies for Armageddon

Table of contents :
Introduction: Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land
PART ONE: 1621–1948
1. ‘One Book of the Whole Bible’
2. ‘This New English Israel’
3. ‘The English Madness’
4. ‘The Americanising Effect’
5. ‘A Great Idea’
6. ‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’
7. Apocalypse Loud
8. ‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’
9. Watchmen for Israel
10. ‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’
11. Talking Texan

Citation preview


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ALLIES FOR ARMAGEDDON the rise of christian zionism



Copyright © 2007 Victoria Clark All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. For information about this and other Yale University Press publications please contact: U.S. Office: [email protected] Europe Office: [email protected] Set in Sabon and Perpetua by Carnegie Book Production, Lancaster Printed in Great Britain by St Edmundsbury Press Ltd, Bury St Edmunds Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Clark, Victoria Allies for Armageddon: the relentless rise of Christian Zionism/Victoria Clark. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978–0–300–11698–4 (alk. paper) 1. Christian Zionism—Great Britain—History. 2. Christian Zionism—United States—History conditions. 3. Great Britain— Relations—Israel. 4. Israel—Relations—Great Britain. 5. United States—Relations—Israel. 6. Israel—Relations—United States. 7. Jews— Restoration. I. Title. DS150.5.C53 2007 320.54095694088’28—dc22 20070120116 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For my American friend and mentor William McPherson with love and thanks

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List of Illustrations Acknowledgements INTRODUCTION: Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land

viii ix 1

PART ONE: 1621–1948 1 ‘One Book of the Whole Bible’


2 ‘This New English Israel’


3 ‘The English Madness’


4 ‘The Americanising Effect’


5 ‘A Great Idea’


6 ‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


PART TWO: 1948 ONWARDS 7 Apocalypse Loud


8 ‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


9 Watchmen for Israel


10 ‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’


11 Talking Texan




Notes Bibliography Index

290 311 322


1. Title page of The World’s Great Restauration or The Calling of the Jewes by Henry Finch (1621) 2. Cotton Mather, engraving, after portrait by Peter Pelham (Bridgeman Art Library) 3. James Leakey, Lewis Way, 1817 (reproduced from The Ways of Yesterday by Anna Maria Stirling (1930)) 4. Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, undated lithograph (Bridgeman Art Library) 5. John Nelson Darby, engraving (reproduced from John Nelson Darby by W. G. Turner, 1944) 6. Edward Irving, watercolour by unknown artist, c. 1823 7. William Hechler, photograph by C. Scolik, c. 1895 (Getty Images) 8. ‘Plan of the Aions’ reproduced from Jesus Is Coming by William E. Blackstone, 1908 9. Orde Wingate, c. 1943 (Bettmann/Corbis) 10. Josiah Wedgwood, c. 1930 (Getty Images) 11. Ted Beckett with the author, 2005 (Robert Mayhew) 12. Jerry Falwell, 2006 (Helber/PA Photos) 13. Chuck Missler, 2006 (Melissa Peron) 14. ‘The Rapture’ by Pat Marvenko Smith, 2005 (Revelation Illustrated) 15. Bus 19 on display in Washington, 2004 (Jason Reed/Reuters/Corbis) 16. Christian Zionists processing through Jerusalem, 2006 (AFP/Getty Images) 17. John Hagee, 2006 (Paul Wharton)


Intended for a general and secular audience, Allies for Armageddon does not set out to tackle the rights and wrongs of Christian Zionist Bible exegesis, but I am greatly indebted to the works of two theologians in particular – Dr Stephen Sizer’s Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon? (2004) and Dr Timothy P. Weber’s On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals became Israel’s Best Friend (2004) – for their lucid and detailed treatment of the subject from a more theological and academic point of view. A book as wide-ranging in time and space as this one would not have been possible without copious reference to the work of countless other historians and journalists to all of whom I am extremely grateful. I have the British Library in London, the Library of Congress in Washington and the Internet to thank for access to their works. I owe a huge debt of gratitude too to the American Christian Zionists who allowed me to attend their functions and agreed to speak to me, and even, in the case of Ted Beckett, offered me friendship and generous hospitality, despite knowing they might be talking to a ‘liberal secular humanist relativist’. I deeply appreciated their honesty and openness, as well as their helpful willingness to put me in contact with other Christian Zionists. I owe a special thanks to acquaintances forged on Chuck Missler’s tour of the Holy Land; they made what might have been a lonely and gruelling research trip a real pleasure. Without Sophie and Alec Russell’s generous hospitality in Washington for a month in the autumn of 2005, I would not have enjoyed that portion of my research nearly as much. The hospitality of friends in Jerusalem – Nasra and Rahme Dahdal, George Hintlian and Fr Athanasius Macora – lightened the load of my Israel research. Chris Stephen’s company in Texas in October 2006 was another welcome boon. Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Dr John Green at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, both in Washington, gave me early and crucial



assistance with understanding contemporary American Christian Zionism. I’m likewise very grateful to Elias Fattal, without whose help I would not have been able to interview a number of Christian Zionists in Israel. Family and friends, especially Katherine Sharp and Marcus Tanner, have all had to suffer my Christian Zionist monomania for the past five years. A special thank you goes to my mother, Marianne Clark, for performing the unenviable task of reading each chapter as I produced it. Another goes to my friend Dan Perry whose qualifications, as a Jewish American with years of experience reporting in Israel, made him ideally suited to reading and commenting on the book. Similarly, I am very grateful to Giles Fraser, the Anglican vicar of Putney and author, for performing the same service. Another thank you goes to Sarah Cole for her frequent and generous invitations to holiday in France, and another to Frank Neale, my partner, who arrived in my life as I was finishing the book but facing the nerve-racking road of having it published. I have my editor at Yale University Press in London, Phoebe Clapham, to thank for making that process a delightfully collaborative and painless one. I would also like to thank Beth Humphries for her efficient copyediting work, and Yale’s commissioning editor, Robert Baldock, of course, for having had sufficient confidence in the project to acquire it in the first place.

Introduction: Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land Jerusalem is beautiful. Nowhere more so than the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque stand, where the Jewish Temple once stood. Access to that holy place, the most bitterly contested 35 acres in the world, is only possible for the non-Muslim via a claustrophobic funnel of Israeli security checks. But once past that ordeal, with the Old City’s labyrinthine tensions and the new one’s hustle and bustle forgotten, time and space expand. A lighter, higher, wider view takes in the acres of pristine paving stones, the fringing groves of cypress trees, the alAqsa mosque at one end, and the centrepiece of the Dome of the Rock: delicate, dazzling testament to a Muslim civilisation that rendered its yearning for heaven in intricate patterns of blue and white, and a golden dome ... On a bright early morning in March 2006 I was reminded that not everyone sees it that way. A member of my tour group, a dentist from Colorado, had just remarked, ‘I wish someone would move things along here – like, just blow this whole place up!’ Quickly glancing around him to check no Muslim guard was in earshot, a finance consultant from Nevada agreed with him, ‘Yeah, why not blow it all sky-high? We’re Americans! We like to start anew!’ Instructions to leave our bibles behind on the buses in order not to antagonise the Muslim guardians of the place had angered some of my fellow tourists. The dentist and finance consultant were far from alone in wanting to ‘move things along here’. Blinded to the charms of another culture’s past and present, careless of the fact that the slightest change in the status quo in that place could tip not just Jerusalem, and the entire region, but possibly the world towards war, most of them were willing the swift unfolding of a bible-prophesied future for the Haram al-Sharif: its speedy replacement by a new Jewish Temple.



Our tour leader and bible-prophecy mentor, Chuck Missler, approached. There was something he needed to show me, he said. Steering me by the elbow towards a spot to the right of the main door of the Dome of the Rock, he directed my attention to a panel of grey-veined marble. ‘Young lady, that piece of marble there – d’you see anything in it?’ ‘No?’ ‘Are you telling me you can’t make out the face of a demon?’ ‘It’s a nice piece of marble ...’ I answered him. Other members of the group saw a demon in the stone, which was just as it should be because Chuck had been telling us, over and over again, that Islam – anti-Semitic and ‘violent to its core’ – was a ‘Satanic religion’. After eight days in the company of 150 mostly American Christian Zionists, I was familiar with their particular view of Bible truth, but more alarmed than ever by its political ramifications.

The term ‘Christian Zionism’ requires some unpicking. ‘Zionism’ originally described a late nineteenth-century secular Jewish movement aimed at securing a Jewish nation state as a safe refuge from mounting European anti-Semitism. By the end of the First World War Zionism had hardened into a campaign for a Jewish state to be established in Palestine, against the explicit wishes of the former Ottoman province’s Arab majority, a project eventually realised and sanctioned by United Nations votes in 1948 and 1949. For the majority of Jews, in Israel and the diaspora, ‘Zionism’ is a clear and non-negotiable good, and a ‘Zionist’ remains simply a supporter of a Jewish state; if some Jews believe that state is best preserved by military force and territorial expansion, while others favour compromise and land concessions to the Palestinians as a means to the same end, both groups can legitimately call themselves Zionists. In non-Jewish discourse, however, the word ‘Zionism’ is often used to refer only to the first group. The term has taken on something of a pejorative colouring since 1967, when Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem during the Six Day War, an act subsequently condemned by the United Nations. Forty years on, the question of what should be done with these territories remains perhaps the most bitterly contested issue in international politics. To many people in the West, most of whom fully support the existence of Israel per se, the term ‘Zionism’ has become a shorthand means of referring to those unwilling to relinquish Israeli rule over the territories, despite the fact that the position represents a major obstacle to any lasting peace settlement with the Palestinians.

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


Land, of course, lies at the heart of the Israel–Palestine conflict. American Christian Zionists’ attitude to that same land and Israel’s post1967 settlements on it is what makes their religious ideology so important. If Christian Zionists are Christians in the sense that they believe Jesus is the messiah and the Bible the true Word of God, they are Zionists in the post-1967 sense because they also deny the Palestinians’ right to an independent homeland. Like many religious Jews, they maintain that the Jews’ claim to rule over Israel proper, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and, of course, the Haram al-Sharif, is divinely ordained. Indeed, some Christian Zionists loudly assert Israel’s divine mandate to administer much more territory; Genesis 17: 4–8, they say, has God promising Abraham a land stretching all the way from the Nile in Egypt, through Israel, Palestine and Jordan and a slice of Saudi Arabia, as far as the Euphrates River in modern Iraq. Millions of devout American Christians are convinced that the territories occupied in 1967 must belong to the Jews because God miraculously helped them to conquer them. In addition, they find no mention of a Palestinian state in their Bible-based schedule of events, or of any peace in the region whatsoever until Jesus stages his ‘Second Coming’ and establishes his thousand-year reign of peace on earth. A very particular understanding of bible prophecy informs their intensely partisan attitude towards Israel. Where Bible scholars have traditionally regarded the prophetic parts of the Bible, including the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, as relating to the era and political context in which they were written and as therefore to be understood metaphorically or in a mythic sense, people like Chuck Missler and my fellow tourists believe that those ancient Middle Eastern forecasts accurately and literally describe present and future events. Plagues and earthquakes and meteors, fire and brimstone, armies as numerous as ‘the sands of the sea’ coming against Jerusalem, mass slaughter and the overthrow of the Beast (Satan), the Jews and Jerusalem centre stage, are what they expect before Jesus returns to earth, with a ‘new Jerusalem coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as bride adorned for her husband’.1 How have they convinced themselves that all these are imminent realities, true for our times? As they see it, two prophesied steps in God’s plan for his world have recently and very clearly been fulfilled: the miraculous return of the Jews to their ancient homeland since the late nineteenth century after an exile lasting almost two thousand years and the equally miraculous survival of the Jewish state since its creation in 1948. With their clocks set to what they refer to as the End Times they’re counting down the hours now, eagerly expecting the implementation of the



remaining items on their Bible prophecy agenda, anticipating the thrilling climax of the cosmic story. According to this schedule Jerusalem must become Israel’s undivided capital and the Muslims’ Haram al-Sharif be destroyed and replaced with a new Jewish Temple. The completion of that Temple, they believe, will herald the appearance of an Antichrist who might be a European diplomat or the head of the United Nations, or an Iraqi, for example. For seven years – a period known as the Tribulation, or Jacob’s Trouble – the Antichrist will sow havoc and suffering on a cosmic scale. At last, his blasphemous demand that the Jews worship him in that Temple will trigger the Battle of Armageddon, at Megiddo in Israel. All non-born-again Christians – including two-thirds of all Jews – who have refused to accept Jesus as their personal saviour by that point will be slain in the conflagration. Jesus’s Second Coming in the heat of that last battle and his subsequent triumph over the Antichrist will be the signal for the start of his thousand-year reign of peace and prosperity from his global headquarters in Jerusalem. The appeal of this grisly narrative for millions is intelligible only when one final, vital ingredient is added to the potent mix. People like Chuck Missler believe that true Christians like themselves have nothing whatsoever to fear from all this mayhem because they won’t be around to suffer it. On the basis of a controversial nineteenth-century interpretation of a single line from St Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians – ‘then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’ 2 – Missler and his ilk are convinced that shortly before life on earth becomes intolerable they will suddenly, without warning, be whisked up to heaven. It is access to this divine emergency exit, a facility popularly known as the Rapture, that allows Christian Zionists to contemplate the wholesale horror of the End Times with a mixture of pitying resignation and gleeful excitement. In this popular American form, Christian Zionism is a vital component of a clearly recognisable millenarian narrative of the kind all three of the Abrahamic faiths have produced at various periods in history. Millenarianism is as old as monotheism. Dreams of obtaining a thousandyear heaven on earth by way of a comprehensive cataclysm have tended to flourish whenever a society’s values are changing and old structures breaking down, wherever peace, security and happiness are at a premium. The typical millenarian dream assuages feelings of incomprehension and powerlessness by converting them into a sharply focused trust in a supernatural intervention. Millenarianism satisfies a deep yearning for order, direction, control and meaning, at times when those commodities seem in desperately short supply.

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


Early seventeenth-century England, where a proto-Christian Zionism first manifested itself, was famously fertile ground for millenarianism, but post-Cold War, post-9/11 America is another such time and place, and these modern millenarians have more going for them than their seventeenthcentury counterparts. Their Rapture escape clause, the physical existence of Israel since 1948 and the ceaseless struggle of a people whom they regard as God’s most favoured nation to establish themselves securely in the Muslim Middle East for almost the last sixty years, taken together with the West’s struggle against Islamic fundamentalism since 11 September 2001, are the crucial combination of factors that have built Christian Zionism into the political force it is today. If the rest of the world can afford to ignore the American Religious Right’s domestic stances on abortion, creationism, stem-cell research and gay marriage, it urgently needs to understand Christian Zionism – the guiding principle of its foreign policy in the Middle East. By assessing the Jewish state’s entitlement to territory in the light of the Old Testament promises God made to Abraham, Christian Zionists are aiding and abetting the activities of a highly motivated minority of right-wing and religious Jews in both Israel and America who oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and so all peace plans. In this way and via the American ballot box Christian Zionists are pouring more fuel on the flames of the dispute that lies at the heart of the Muslim world’s sense of grievance against the West, and at the heart too, most would say, of the West’s current struggle against Islamic fundamentalism. None of the issue’s fiendish complexity, none of its tragic and growing intractability, interests Christian Zionists. Millions of devout American Christians will never retreat from their unconditional support for the greatest of all possible Israels because they believe it is God’s will. A poll conducted by Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life in July 2006 found that 42 per cent of all Americans believe ‘Israel was given to the Jewish people by God’ and that 35 per cent believe that Israel is ‘part of the fulfilment of biblical prophecy about the Second Coming of Jesus’.3 In October 2006 a Zogby International poll tightened up the question of Israel’s biblical claim to the land and found that 31 per cent of Americans either ‘strongly believe’ or ‘believe’ that Israel must have all the promised land, including Jerusalem, in order to facilitate that Second Coming.4 One has to look back as far as the Crusades to find another example of such a large group of outsiders involving themselves in the Middle East on a religious pretext, a parallel not lost on Islamic fundamentalists. In January 2004 Osama bin Laden informed the Muslim world, ‘The current Zionist Crusader campaign against the umma [the Muslim world] is the



most dangerous and rabid ever.’ 5 His point of view is intelligible only when one considers that around just under one in three reasonably educated and decently prosperous Americans like those I encountered on Chuck Missler’s Holy Land tour sincerely believes that God opposes a peaceful settlement of the Israel–Palestine conflict in the form of a Palestinian homeland, and many of them lobby their politicians to act accordingly. Christian Zionists rarely identify themselves as such, first because of the word Zionism’s pejorative colouring, but secondly because they believe it goes without saying that any good Christian who reads their Bible right must uphold Israel’s claim to the land God promised Abraham. Generally, they describe themselves as ‘Bible-believing Christians’, a term which inevitably casts aspersions on Christians of the older denominational churches who believe the Bible but choose to interpret its truths in a more metaphorical fashion. Sometimes they call themselves ‘evangelicals’ or, more rarely, Christian fundamentalists. American historians of religion often divide Bible-believers into ‘evangelicals’ and ‘fundamentalists’, but for the non-religious, and in the context of Christian Zionism, the distinction is academic. If the word ‘fundamentalist’ is used in its now popular sense, to refer to anyone whose vital beliefs and world-view are informed by a selective and literal reading of a sacred text, then Christian Zionists are all fundamentalists. Most Bible-believers and evangelicals and all fundamentalists are Christian Zionists. I embarked on this examination of Christian Zionism in mid-2005 in order to determine to what extent the religious ideology might constitute a threat to the secular values of western civilisation since the Enlightenment. True, Christian Zionists weren’t Islamic fundamentalists, flying planes into Tehran skyscrapers or planting bombs on Damascus buses, but history has often shown how words, ideas and money can end up breaking bones just as surely as sticks and stones. By immersing myself in the movement – in its long history, in its dominant personalities, its theology, its politics, its group activities and its media – I hoped to gain a clearer view of the true nature and influence of a phenomenon that is either heartily applauded or, alternatively, stridently vilified as our own western world’s mirror image of Islamic fundamentalism. Like it or not, the Christian face which the battling and embattled Muslim world is seeing at the start of the twenty-first century is predominantly a Christian Zionist one. Israel–Palestine is visited by hundreds of thousands of American Christian Zionist pilgrims every year. Joining a Christian Zionist tour of the Holy Land, one among dozens advertised on the Internet, seemed to me a good way of engaging with the movement I was setting out to describe. In the first place, I couldn’t think of a better

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


means of conveying the grass-roots propagation and appeal of the ideology. Secondly, I wanted to gauge Israelis’ response to the elevation of their state into an object of Gentile religious devotion. Thirdly, I hoped to test the Palestinians’ reaction to Christians who believe God would deny them their homeland. I had never heard of Chuck Missler but had no trouble selecting his Spring 2006 Tour of the Holy Land because it promised two special excitements: a solidarity visit to an Israeli army base in the Golan Heights and a ‘Temple Conference’ in Jerusalem.

There on the Haram al-Sharif, or the Temple Mount, many of my fellow pilgrims had abandoned any pretence of sightseeing to gather around Marty, who was in full prophetic flow. Passionately declaring that ‘God says the heavens will fall out of the sky if you abandon Israel’, he was reminding me of our first encounter, at dinner on the very first night of the tour. One of a pair of courteous middle-aged men dressed in neatly pressed chinos and plaid shirts and seated at my table, Marty had soon divulged that he was a Californian who’d abandoned a management career in the aerospace industry three years earlier to devote himself exclusively to Bible study. His room-mate, Richard, a retired businessman from Massachusetts, wasted no time in producing a BlackBerry, complete with bible software, which he used for backing and cross-referencing Marty’s bible-based assertions. Marty did all the talking. He was excited to be in Israel. If the Jews had fulfilled one vital prophecy by re-establishing themselves as a nation in the land God had given them, he could hardly wait for them to fulfil another by replacing the Haram al-Sharif with their Temple. Marty expected the Antichrist to install state of the art cameras and recording equipment inside that new building, so that the whole world would be able to watch and worship him, as bible prophecy demanded. Not that he would be around to see that. Marty expected to have been beamed up to heaven in the Rapture by then, well out of range of all the trouble. ‘So you’ve had enough of life?’ I asked him, checking his expression for tell-tale signs of terminal despair, or humour. But he looked fitter than most middle-aged men and he wasn’t joking. ‘I’ve done all the drinking and smoking and romancing I’m going to do. I have a house and a wife and kids,’ he told me. ‘I’m ready to go – right now.’ Marty couldn’t wait for something else: the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. Unconverted, no Jew can access the Rapture. When I reminded him that we’d all signed a statement of our understanding that Israeli



law forbade us to evangelise, he declared ‘God’s law is above Man’s law’ and boasted that he flouted Israeli law every time he visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Making sure he has a few loose shekels and some ‘literature’ with the word ‘Abraham’ on it in his pockets, he discreetly disseminates the Christian truth as he sees it to any Jews he can find there. ‘They can’t refuse anything with the name of Abraham on it,’ he explained, ‘and you know how much Jews love money.’ My expression must have betrayed me. ‘OK,’ he said, ‘let’s back up a bit here – you believe that the Jews are “spiritually blinded”, don’t you? ...’ I’d retired to bed on that first night, praying that Melissa, a young masseuse from Maine with whom I was sharing my hotel room, was not a female Marty. She wasn’t. I soon discovered her ignorance of Middle Eastern politics was so complete, her nature so sweet and her faith so secure that I risked nothing by being honest with her. She was pleased to be rooming with an author, she told me, but her full-time job and exercise regime left her little time to read anything but the Word of God, in preparation for her weekly Bible class.

Melissa and I were both listed on the ‘blue bus’, which led the convoy of four. On that first morning of the tour Chuck and Nancy Missler sat up front, by the driver. A petite blonde neatly dressed in pastels and white and outsize sunglasses, Nancy exuded an air of hard-won serenity. Chuck, a Californian giant in his early seventies, robust and bluff and handsomely endowed with the charisma of a born leader, welcomed us all aboard with a merry quip, ‘Hey! I noticed how few of you were going for the biblical breakfast.’ He was comparing the tinned fish on the buffet table with that which Jesus cooked fresh for his apostles on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. After improvising an opening prayer – ‘Lord, we thank you for making it possible for us to be in your land ...’ – Chuck instructed our Israeli guide, Ronni, to teach us the Israeli national anthem, the Hatikvah. With a grimace of ironic distaste, Ronni did his best. The group’s enthusiasm helped. First stop, the Roman ruins of Caesarea where Chuck, sporting a green sun visor emblazoned with acts 17:11 (a coded invitation to Jews to recognise Jesus as their messiah), settled us all down on the steps of the ancient amphitheatre, for some bible study. A practised performer, he warmed us up with the information that the logo on his business

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


card read ‘Have Bible, will babble.’ Next, he drew our attention to the Old Testament Book of Obadiah, 1: 9, which speaks of ancient Israel’s enemies, the Edomites, being ‘slaughtered’ and ‘covered with shame’. ‘It is a legitimate perspective,’ Chuck informed us, ‘to view those Edomites as today’s Hamas. The Edomites are the descendants of Esau who, as you all know, always hated the House of Jacob, the Jews, so they incurred God’s specific wrath.’ He continued: ‘My point is that we’re seeing the same thing with Hamas today.’ The Hebrew word for ‘shame’, he told us, was bushah. ‘Anyone recognise the name of our president? Could be a bit of a stretch, but we’ll see!’ The man sitting beside me had a bible open on one knee, a notepad on the other. He was writing down Chuck’s every word. While exploring the Roman ruins I got talking to Ron. A former management consultant for IBM, he was now a full-time pastor based in Portsmouth in Britain, and busily distributing Chuck’s works – books, DVDs and CDs – all over Europe. Ron had known Chuck for twenty-five years, and he explained to me that Chuck’s reputation in the field of bible prophecy rested on his uniquely impressive background in the fields of science, the defence industry and military intelligence. By the age of nine, Ron told me, Chuck was already an amateur radio ham. Aged fourteen, he was building a primitive computer in his parents’ garage, and learning to fly aeroplanes. A spell in the navy was followed by another in the air force as a branch chief in the Department of Guided Missiles, and then by a move into the private sector, as a systems engineer for a large aerospace firm. Chuck spent his thirties, the 1960s, working on intelligence and defence projects for the state, and setting up the first international computer network for Ford Motor Company in Michigan. During the 1970s and ’80s, his forties and fifties, he was setting up his own companies, and rescuing others. On one occasion, Ron told me, while Chuck was managing director of Western Digital Corporation, travelling to Israel for a meeting with Israeli defence chiefs, his hosts sent up two military jets to escort his plane into Tel Aviv. Chuck was a man of substance and standing, it seems, living the American dream with Nancy and their four children in Big Bear, California when disaster struck. In 1990, what Chuck had billed as ‘the deal of the century’ – a multibillion-dollar contract to supply six million personal computers to perestroika-era Soviet businesses and schools – collapsed in a mire of unpaid debts. After flying his Soviet clients around the country in a hired Lear jet and helicopter, after a glitzy New York launch, and a boast to his Bible class back home that foreknowledge of the deal had reached him by divine inspiration, a subsidiary of Chuck’s investment company was discovered to have no experience in computer production and insufficient



capital. The Misslers were liable for everything: their home, cars and even their health insurance. Chuck had had to reinvent himself. Decoding the Bible became his new living. It has served him well. He’s now a leading exponent of Christian Zionism, a popular speaker and the author of a number of books, CDs and DVDs. He has a daily Christian radio programme, 66/44, and a flourishing Internet ministry, Koinonia House, which advertises itself as ‘bringing the world into focus through the lens of Bible prophecy’, based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Ron didn’t object to my describing Chuck as a fundamentalist, or to my asking how he differed, in his essence, from an Islamic fundamentalist. ‘Fundamentalism’s natural to a scientist because a scientist can trust some basics,’ he said. ‘Liberals can’t trust anything. You can’t be a liberal and a real scientist.’ Our next stop was Megiddo – Armageddon – a hill rising high above the Plain of Jezreel. Picturing the battle against the Antichrist at which Jesus will stage his Second Coming, one of my fellow tourists marvelled: ‘Would you just look at that! The place is just made for strategic manoeuvring, isn’t it?’ But Chuck had different ideas: ‘By the way, there won’t be any battle here at Armageddon. That down there’s just the gathering place for the final assault on Jerusalem, like England was the launch pad for the Normandy landings in World War Two. Check it out, Isaiah 63! But I can tell you now that it would be a very convenient place for Israeli pilots to return to after sorties against Iran.’ Someone asked Chuck how he viewed the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. ‘We’ll talk about that in a more sequestered environment,’ he said, frowning. Someone wanted to know if the Antichrist was alive today. ‘Absolutely!’ answered Chuck, ‘but let’s save that discussion for another time ...’ Someone else pressed him on the details of the Battle of Armageddon. ‘That stuff about the blood reaching as high as the horses’ bridles?’ said Chuck. ‘Well, there are different interpretations ...’ ‘Which nations will be fighting Israel at the Battle of Armageddon?’ was the next question. ‘All of ’em!’ Chuck fired back. ‘The members of the European Union and the United Nations are all anti-Israel.’ Someone asked him when we could expect Armageddon and the Second Coming. ‘Many of us,’ said Chuck, presumably referring to an elite of bibleprophecy experts he belonged to, ‘believe it’s going to happen within the next few decades. All the pieces are dropping into place; we’re just waiting for Turkey to get rejected by the European Union. It’s a case of when you pass downtown stores full of Christmas decorations, you know Thanksgiving’s on its way!’

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


An anxious, sincerely puzzled woman dared to enquire, ‘Chuck, could you tell us what the motivation would be for all the nations coming against Israel at that battle?’ With barely concealed impatience, he answered, ‘It doesn’t take much. Hatred of Israel.’ But he drew a little lesson: ‘All prejudice is bad, but anti-Semitism is another thing altogether because there has to be a remnant of Jews left at the time of the last battle [Armageddon] to recognise Jesus as their messiah.’ Chuck’s mind was scattering sparks: ‘Listen, you heard it here first: the most important Iraqi city is not Baghdad, it’s Babylon. We’re going to see Babylon rise and rise, but Isaiah and Jeremiah have promised a big judgment against that city. You may have heard rumours of the United Nations moving its headquarters there. Sounds like an urban legend, doesn’t it? But it’s not impossible. All I’m saying is that after the Rapture, it’s going to get so bizarre that you wouldn’t be able to make a movie about it!’ As he led the way back down the hill to the waiting buses, he said ‘By the way, the Antichrist is an Assyrian.’ Could he be meaning that evil was incarnate in one of Iraq’s 200,000-strong minority of Assyrian Christians? I was seated beside Chuck at lunch, so we got talking about the place of Iran and Syria in Bible prophecy. ‘Iran’s the big one – you’re going to see that very soon.’ ‘Any time-frame?’ Between hungry bites on a falafel, he named a period of three days, in a fortnight’s time. He then mentioned EMP – Electro-Magnetic Pulse – a weapon designed to knock out all an enemy’s electrical power systems. ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly,’ he said, ‘is reporting that Iran’s testing EMP from the Caspian Sea.’ An eavesdropping farmer from Idaho, wearing a sun hat embellished with the Israeli and American flags and the slogan allies forever, looked thunderstruck, terrified. ‘Everything’s just set to crack, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘But the US wouldn’t let Israel deal with Iran alone, would it?’ ‘I hope not,’ Chuck replied, grimly. ‘If it does, we’re finished – the End Times are upon us!’ At supper in our five-star hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee that night, Chuck announced that, owing to popular demand, he’d agreed to give another talk. Almost one in ten members of the group was a pastor or lay preacher. All clean-cut middle-aged men, they attended the session with their bibles on their laps, pens and notepads at the ready. Chuck explained that we wouldn’t be visiting a single church on the tour because the Holy Land’s Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox



churches in places like Nazareth and Bethlehem were homes of ‘replacement theology’ – places of worship for Christians who refuse to understand that God never cast away his Chosen People, never ‘replaced’ them in his favour with the Christian Church, but always kept them central to his plan. Chuck told us that he was careful to avoid such places because those old Christian denominations were incurably ‘anti-Semitic’. None of his audience needed reminding but he reminded us anyway that in Genesis 12: 3, God told Abraham ‘I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse’, and he went on to draw the lesson: ‘As long as America continues to “bless” Israel, that’s a shelter from an overdue judgment on our country,’ he said. This single line of Genesis is the vital insurance policy that goes as far towards explaining the appeal of Christian Zionism as any thrillingly apocalyptic narrative or Rapture get-out clause. On the strength of that endlessly reiterated one-line promise to Abraham, millions of Americans have come to believe that if they ‘bless’ Israel morally, financially and politically, God will reward them by favouring America. ‘Blessing’ Israel for America’s sake has been motivating Christian Zionists to combat antiSemitism, donate to Jewish charities, and invest in and visit Israel. But it has also involved many in opposing any peace process, in supporting the continued building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, in funding those internationally outlawed settlements and in backing an extreme right-wing Israeli plan to ‘transfer’ the Palestinians to neighbouring Arab states. ‘The question now is, what is each of you doing to bless Israel?’ Chuck continued. He strongly advised us to help the prophetic agenda along a little by signing a petition to the President Bush and Congress requesting that the American embassy in Tel Aviv be moved to Jerusalem, in recognition of the Jews’ divine right to call the disputed city their undivided capital. I wondered if all those pastors shared my surprise that Chuck’s talks featured precious little bible study and no prayer.

Melissa and I were woken early and reduced to helpless giggles by the sound of male voices raised in argument next door. The tenor of the discussion and the odd word – ‘Rapture’ and ‘prophecy’ and ‘End Times’ – were a giveaway. It was my first-night table companions, Marty and Richard. My room-mate and I shared a language and a sense of humour but I often failed to catch her meaning. When I expressed surprise that none of the group drank a glass of wine or beer with their evening meal, she

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


explained, ‘Oh, I guess we just wouldn’t want to stumble anyone.’ ‘Sorry?’ ‘Oh, excuse me. Someone might be a recovering alcoholic or something. I guess we’re also witnessing to our faith on a trip like this.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Oh, you know, setting a Christian example.’ Later that day we all boarded a pleasure boat for an outing on the Sea of Galilee. At the top of the mast, two flags – the Stars and Stripes and the Israeli Star of David – fluttered companionably in a stiff breeze. As we pulled away from the jetty, we sang first ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and then – as best we could – the Hatikvah, in the words that Ronni, our guide, had taught us. Next stop, the Mount of Beatitudes, the low hill on which Jesus is said to have delivered his sermon about the blessedness of the meek and the peacemakers and poor in spirit. We didn’t linger there or visit an Eastern Orthodox church but I fell into step with the only New Zealander on the tour, a woman of about my own age who edited her town’s community newspaper. Rachel told me that her father and brother had introduced her to Chuck’s bible study books and tapes. ‘I got to like Chuck because he’s always saying “Don’t take my word for it – go check it out for yourself”,’ she said. ‘For weeks before I left home, I forced myself to get up at 5.30 every morning to catch his radio programme, because I didn’t want to feel out of my depth here. But now I’m wondering why I bothered. He’s not saying anything new ...’ I sensed that in her present mood I could be as frank with Rachel as I’d been with Melissa about my reason for coming on this trip. She listened carefully to what I had to say, before remarking, ‘You know, I’ve never thought of myself as a fundamentalist.’ On the next bus ride I sat next to Terry, a cheerful construction materials salesman from Washington State. He’d be turning fifty the following day and was looking forward to marking that milestone with a scheduled visit to a military base on the Golan Heights to express his Christian solidarity with the Israeli army. ‘I’m just hoping they’re going to let me fire a gun,’ he told me. Chuck was as excited as Terry about that trip, bursting with high spirits the next morning. After greeting me over breakfast with a jocular ‘Young lady! You look like you’re having too good a time!’ he mentioned that he’d like to find a few minutes for a chat. I guessed his man in Europe, Ron, had alerted him to the presence of a sceptic on the tour. All aboard the buses again for the short ride to the Golan Heights. The Israeli army liaison officer’s formal welcome address to us – ‘It is



my great pleasure to connect the Christian community like this with the Israel Defence Forces ...’ – was barely audible above the Bible-tourists’ happy chatter. We all clustered around a tangled hillock of khaki Israeli army shirts, each selecting and donning one, as instructed. ‘You look great!’, ‘Hey, you’re going to need the biggest they’ve got!’ Some strayed away to photograph each other against a background of Israeli military hardware: ‘Can you get one of me on the tank?’, ‘Go stand by that jeep, will you?’ An exMarine happily noted that the Israeli and US armies used the same make of gun. Buttoning a shirt over his barrel chest, Terry repeated his birthday wish and added another: ‘I just hope they’ll let me fire a gun now, and donate some blood.’ Chuck outdid us all by dressing up in full military kit – shirt, helmet and flak jacket – but there was something missing. In a group photo of last year’s visit to the base I had viewed on his website, he’d been posing with a gun. Guns are as American as apple pie. No one I spoke to found it strange, let alone distasteful, that adherents to a religion whose founder preached ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ should be condoning and blessing the activities of an army infamous worldwide for its brutal efficiency. An interior decorator from Florida restricted her comments to worries about the shabby state of the base. I concluded that support for the military, whether American or Israeli, came as naturally and was as unquestionable as Christian Zionism to these foot-soldiers of the American Religious Right. It occurred to me that the international outcry following President Bush’s use of the word ‘crusade’ to describe his post 9/11 War on Terror would have taken my fellow tourists utterly by surprise. For many of the group, especially the men, the visit was a highlight of the tour, the main reason why, like me, they’d selected it over the hundreds of others advertised via their churches or Internet ministries like Chuck’s. For some, the discovery that it was only an engineering corps base, far from any flashpoint, and almost deserted because most of the soldiers had been sent home for a long weekend, was a little disappointing. Terry quickly realised he wouldn’t be allowed near a gun. But Ronni the tour guide told us that our visit meant we belonged to Israel and Israel to us, and the liaison officer assured us that our support meant a lot to the soldiers. After a request that we donate to the army’s welfare fund, she divided us into work-teams. Some of us were set to planting the tour group’s gift of cypress trees, some to weeding verges, some to collecting rubbish and others, myself included, to spring-cleaning the mess hall. The chief cook looked irritated, then baffled, but finally amused by the arrival of a troop of American women wearing crumpled army shirts over

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


their holiday casuals. He needed us to mop the floor, clean the windows, scrub all the tables and hundreds of plastic chairs, he said. Outside, another team was crouched over the flowerbeds, while another roamed the base in search of empty cans and plastic bags. Planting trees was the hardest work. New Zealand Rachel worked up a sweat, swinging a pickaxe at the rocky soil, while Chuck and Marty loitered in some shade, downloading, as Marty put it, about prophecy and global issues. In the space of two hours the mess hall was gleaming, our gift of fifty saplings had been planted and the verges were neat. Lunch was served. Chuck rose to his feet to ask us to pray for ‘a special blessing’ on the Israeli Defence Force, ‘in the name of Yeshua’ – Hebrew for Jesus. At the end of the meal we did our ragged, unaccompanied best to sing the Hatikvah again. Ronni was pensive and weary that afternoon, too weary to give us a thorough guided tour of the Roman ruins at Bet Saida. Perching on a pile of stones, he told us he would love to believe in God but just couldn’t bring himself to because ‘in Israel, religion divides people from each other’. ‘Thank you for sharing that with us, Ronni,’ said a usually taciturn American called Sam. ‘That’s God working on you,’ said Marty, a quiver of excitement in his voice; ‘just the fact that you’re saying that.’ The mood had changed. Everyone forgot the morning’s hard labour. As Ronni continued, we were enthralled by the impromptu drama unfolding before our eyes. ‘OK, let’s say I become a believer – which God should I believe in? I’m a Jew, so I should believe in the Jewish God, but how can I when he allowed six million of us to die in the Holocaust?’ ‘But your God told you people all along that if you do this, this will happen and if you do that, that will happen,’ answered Sam. ‘You know God deals with nations as well as with people, don’t you?’ ‘But six million?’ ‘Don’t blame Hitler’s action on God,’ interjected Marty. ‘The enemy is Satan – the one who hates Jews is Satan. He was just using the Jews to attack Jesus.’ Marty and Sam were standing over Ronni, jabbing their forefingers at him for emphasis, urgent. The rest of us were silent, watching. ‘The Bible says that you Jews are partially blinded until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in,’ Sam was saying. Ronni ignored that. ‘But can you tell me, where is God when children are dying of hunger in Africa?’ ‘Saving those African souls is more important than giving them a meal,’ Sam retorted, before trying another approach. ‘Hey Ronni, you want to



know why Christians like us are so attached to Jews? It’s because no other people has demonstrated through history that the Word of God is true. Prophecies about the Jews have been fulfilled and are being fulfilled.’ ‘You’re seeking, Ronni. God has you here by divine appointment,’ added Marty, reverently. Sam’s young wife, who was standing beside me, reached for my hand and that of the person on the other side of her, and struck up a hymn. She seemed to think that Ronni was about to recognise Jesus as his messiah, but the rest of us were not so sure. I didn’t take her hand and no one took up her tune. The drama ended. In the privacy of our room that night, Melissa confided that the incident had left her feeling out of her depth. ‘I think some of the gentlemen on this tour are all brain and no heart,’ she said, heading off to the hotel gym instead of to Chuck’s evening lecture. The session was interesting in three respects. Chuck warned us that Jews who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as their messiah by the time of the Battle of Armageddon will face divine punishment in the form of a double-strength Holocaust. ‘Check it out! Zechariah 13:8 – “in the whole land, says the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive”. A third of the world’s Jews, six million out of eighteen million, died in the Holocaust. We’re talking two-thirds at Armageddon – do the math!’ He also let slip that he was ‘fortunate enough to have met our president’ and he told us that, because the mainstream media ‘tells us the inverse of what’s really happening’, he preferred to rely on his own ‘intelligence network’ to ‘monitor strategic trends’ in the light of prophecy. One of the 50,000 subscribers to his Internet news service was keeping a close eye on developments on the Iranian stock exchange, he said. American servicemen in Iraq were taking aerial photographs of Babylon for him.

Ronni seemed none the worse for his spiritual battering the day before. I was sitting, having breakfast with him, fishing for an authentically Israeli view of Christian Zionism, when Chuck hove into view. Planting a fatherly hand on Ronni’s shoulder, he said, ‘I understand that you touched people’s hearts yesterday – something’s moving ...’ Ronni smiled politely, but said nothing. We were all on the move, headed for Jerusalem at last. ‘OK guys,’ said Ronni, as we bowled down the motorway with a view of the Jordan River and Jordan on the other side of it, to our left, ‘what’s the real name of Jordan?’

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


‘Israel!’ came a chorus of shouts from the back of the bus. ‘You said it, not me,’ said Ronni with a mischievous grin. ‘We Israelis have to be very careful who we say that to. Just remember that you said it, not me. OK, next question – you know we talk about the West Bank. Well, which west bank, of which river?’ ‘The Euphrates!’ came a chorus of replies from these people who believe that Israel’s territory must one day be as vast as the area covenanted by God to Abraham and his descendants. ‘Why not the Volga?’ asked Ronni, enlarging Israel not just to Iraq, but as far east and north as Russia. He was teasing them. I felt embarrassed on my fellow tourists’ behalf, a little protective. But I don’t think anyone took offence, and I’d gained an authentically Israeli view of American Christian Zionism. Terry had bravely swallowed his disappointment at not being allowed to fire a gun at the army base. ‘It’s OK,’ he told me, ‘just so long as someone lets me donate some blood.’ He and his room-mate had been discussing loving one’s neighbour as oneself. His room-mate had argued that he wasn’t obliged to love the Iraqis or the Palestinians because they weren’t his neighbours. Terry wanted to know where I stood on the matter. During a visit to another set of Roman ruins, Ronni parked himself on another pile of stones to take questions. He seemed inured to the depths of ignorance betrayed by queries like, ‘Are the Turks Arabs?’ and ‘Are Palestinian people mostly Jordanians?’ and ‘Didn’t the Arabs just come here as workers when the Jews started building the land?’ He maintained that the Palestinians, as they call themselves, have ‘no physical or spiritual connection to the land of Israel’. We were all looking forward to our first sight of Jerusalem. ‘Wowwwww!’ breathed my fellow tourists as we emerged from a dark tunnel to our dazzling first view of the city. We were seeing Arabs for the first time. Our buses stopped at a spot half-way up the Mount of Olives, where Chuck could pose against a backdrop of Jerusalem for a quick piece to camera. But he couldn’t hear himself speak because the Muslim call to afternoon prayer was blaring out over the city from dozens of minarets. ‘Let’s wait for Hamas to finish – sounds like an Alka-Seltzer commercial, doesn’t it?’ he wisecracked. One of the group launched a counter-attack: a hymn. Chuck sang along, tapping his foot in time. At last, he could begin, but a tourist bus parked up behind us was playing blaring Arab love-songs. Chuck was talking about the ‘Jews’ spiritual blindness’ and about a ‘specific shocking event that will open their eyes’, saying something about ‘the Rapture’ removing all Christian



believers in the twinkling of an eye, but the bus driver would not stop honking his horn. Chuck began shouting to be heard, but some little Arab boys were wolf-whistling with all their might. Here, at last, was an authentically Arab response to Christian Zionism, perhaps increasingly to all Americans – and their western allies. ‘They say you can’t prove your Bible,’ Chuck was roaring. ‘Well, yes, you can!’ Phil, the finance consultant from Nevada who’d later express a desire to erase the Haram al-Sharif because Americans like to start anew, needed a cold beer as much as I did that evening. He opened up on the second one, to tell me he’d become a Christian at the age of thirteen when a schoolfriend invited him to a Bible summer camp. A trained engineer, he felt strongly drawn to Chuck’s scientific approach and saw nothing odd in his definition of the Bible as ‘an integrated message system of supernatural origin’. He was taking stock of his life, he said. He planned to emigrate, possibly to Israel. ‘America has no purpose. At least Israel has a purpose,’ he mused. Like Chuck, Phil believed that America was ‘only hanging on in there’ as the world’s superpower because it was blessing Israel. Phil had never heard the term Christian Zionist. All he knew was that Christians had at least ‘an indirect command’ to support Israel. Our first visit the next morning was to Jerusalem’s ‘Temple Institute’, founded by a small fringe group of Orthodox Jews who are as eager as Christian Zionists to see the Temple up and running again as a symbol of renewed nationhood. The centre of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, it was destroyed by the Romans during the Jewish Revolt of ad 70. Recognising the lethally inflammatory potential of any changes to the status quo on the Temple Mount today, most Israelis are not in favour of its restoration. The Temple Institute is visited and funded by American Jews and Christians, not by Israelis. A small but elegantly appointed exhibition centre in the Old City’s Jewish quarter, the place was filled with careful replicas of the precious paraphernalia Jewish priests will need to wear or use as soon as the Muslims’ Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque have been removed and the Temple built. Many of the tour group were interested, but most of them believed – as Marty did – that no good could come of that Temple because the Antichrist would demand to be worshipped there. Terry was impatient; the Jews needed to recognise Jesus as their messiah, not worry about their ancient Judaic rituals, he told me. Ronni’s guided tour of the Old City was aimed at proving the impossibility of dividing Jerusalem into the capitals of both a Palestinian and a Jewish state. Explaining that the city is holy to three faiths – Jews, Christians and Muslims – he posed a question:

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


‘If I ask Christians “What is your vision of the city?” – what will they say?’ ‘It’s a Jewish city,’ answered members of the group without hesitation. ‘Guys, guys, you’re killing me! I’m not talking about your kind of Christians – I mean the other kind of Christians – the Catholics, the Orthodox and so on. They’ll say it must be Christian ...’ Ronni was preaching to the thoroughly converted, to people who did not consider Catholics and Orthodox worthy of the name Christian, but he had to do his job. ‘Listen, this is not a political statement,’ he said next. ‘Jerusalem has never been a Muslim capital. They even turn their backs on the city when they pray in order to face Mecca.’ If these people know that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews and that Israel will some day, somehow, comprise all of the land God gave to Abraham, from the Nile in Egypt to the Euphrates in Iraq, that doesn’t necessarily make them philo-Semites. Marty had proved that at our first meeting, and Terry illustrated the point again. ‘Look at them all down there,’ he said disgustedly, as we gazed across the Western Plaza at a crowd of Jews praying at the Western Wall: ‘all bobbing up and down like ducks!’ Terry was of the opinion that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke in January 2006 had been his just punishment for deciding that Israel must relinquish the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005. Melissa was not moved by my effort, late that night, to explain to her that Jewish West Jerusalem and Arab East Jerusalem were two very different places, two different realities. She didn’t want to know there were two sides to the thorniest question on earth. ‘I guess, the thing is, the Palestinians are not a real people. They never had a land here,’ she said. ‘Try telling them that!’ I said, switching off the reading light. On the evening before our visit to the Temple Mount, Chuck was resplendent in a dark suit and tie, in honour of another highlight of the tour, ‘The Jerusalem Temple Conference’, which we would all be attending in one of the hotel’s banqueting suites. Chuck had hosted Jerusalem Temple conferences before, but not for a while. Not since the mid-1990s had he gathered various Israeli experts – archaeologists, amateur enthusiasts, historians – to explain to his tour groups where exactly on the Temple Mount they each thought the prophesied new Temple should be situated. After boasting that Israeli friends had ‘hunted’ him down in Annapolis and ‘begged’ him to resurrect the event this year, he took a question. ‘Which temple do we believe will be desecrated by the Antichrist?’



‘From our point of view,’ he had to admit, ‘it’s the next Temple to be built – Daniel 9 – check it out! That’s where the Antichrist will set himself up to be worshipped. That would be the classic Christian eschatological point of view.’ The Israeli conference speakers, of course, did not share this ‘Christian eschatological point of view’. None of them believed that an Antichrist would provoke the divinely engineered destruction of their new Temple by demanding to be worshipped there. They believed the rebuilding of the Temple would prepare the way for a Jewish messiah. After another long, hot day’s sightseeing, two complicated talks with lots of diagrams seemed like hard work. Not until a young American-born Israeli who directs the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus – a new body devoted to tightening the bond between Israel and her American Christian supporters – did people begin to listen attentively. Josh Reinstein was an excellent speaker and, thanks to his American upbringing, he knew exactly who his audience was. ‘Chuck and I have a special bond,’ he began confidingly. ‘On one of the radical Islamic websites there’s a spot about him and his activities on Israel’s behalf, describing him as a known associate of Josh Reinstein ...’ Reinstein told us about the ‘unprecedented burst’ of activity that was bringing Christians and Jews closer and closer, before claiming that ‘this war on terror we see around the world is all about who controls the Temple Mount’. He is a member of the extreme right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party which, in the interests of an ethnically pure Jewish state, aims at depriving Israel’s two million Arab Israelis of their citizenship. He played to the group’s Religious Right fears: ‘We live in a morally confused age when there is snide amusement about the Bible in the media.’ He asserted that the great divide was no longer between Jews and Christians but between those who believed in the Bible and those who didn’t. Ignoring the differences between Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity, not mentioning the fact that Christians were expecting the messiah to appear in the form of Jesus while the Jews were awaiting a stranger, let alone addressing the gorier aspects of bible prophecy as Christian Zionists understand it, he claimed, ‘Only Jews and Christians and no other people cherish these biblical values like we do, and they are the reason for our prosperity.’ After carefully reminding us of God’s promise to Abraham that he will bless anyone who blesses his people, and curse anyone who curses them, Reinstein closed with what most of that audience would have interpreted as a rousing call to arms, ‘I look forward to praying with you next year on the Temple Mount!’ and won a standing ovation. As the conference ended,

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


the pressure to sign the petition demanding that the American embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem was embarrassingly hard to resist. Fuelled by Chuck’s teachings and roused to righteous indignation by Reinstein’s rhetoric, was it any wonder my fellow tourists couldn’t appreciate the Muslim monuments on the Haram al-Sharif?

The morning after, the last of the tour. Chuck was late for breakfast and my long-awaited ‘chat’ with him. Nancy and I had a chance to talk. Being married to ‘a dynamo like Chuck’ had not been easy, she told me. She explained that they’d been on the point of divorcing when she set up her own, complementary ministry, based on her insight that the design of the Temple in Jerusalem – as described in the Bible – mirrors that of the human psyche. Chuck appeared at last, bible in hand, but so did a stream of other claims on his time and attention. The decoder of prophecy briefly made way for the CEO; he needed a quick word with Ron about how they were going to ‘kick-start’ market penetration in Europe. One of the pastors in the group wanted to ask him if Jesus’s mother died at Ephesus. Another needed to thank him for changing his life. Interrupting that last paean with an affable, ‘I’ll give you half an hour to cut that out!’ Chuck thanked him for coming on the trip. I liked Chuck’s jokes and admired his energy. I liked serene Nancy, and New Zealand Rachel and gun-mad Terry and sweet Melissa and Ron, Chuck’s man in Europe, and Phil from Nevada and Ronni the guide. Thanks to them, and contrary to all my expectations, I’d enjoyed myself. But Chuck had offered me this chance to register my misgivings about Christian Zionism, so I was going to take it. It was hard to know where to start. I warned him that I wasn’t a Bible-believer, that I was a prime example of what America’s Religious Right abhors, a ‘secular humanist relativist liberal’, a typical European. In short, I didn’t accept the inerrancy of the Bible, so would be grateful if he didn’t use it as a basis for our discussion. He didn’t seem to hear me, but began raiding his bible for texts to prove that nothing in there was accidental, that it was all ‘an integrated message system’. I called a halt. Would he mind meeting me on my ground? Without waiting for an answer, I proceeded to question the wisdom of urging the rebuilding of the Temple on the basis of a religious text that even most Israelis, let alone Palestinians, do not acknowledge as their ultimate authority. I took issue with his labelling Islam ‘a Satanic religion’ and with his claim to be able to prove the truth of the Bible. I asked him to tell me



how his Christian fundamentalism differed in its essence from Muslim fundamentalism ... It was not going well. I couldn’t engage him on his ground and he couldn’t meet me on mine. We weren’t communicating. While I reeled off my questions, he was talking about macro-codes, about his commentary on the Book of Genesis that was circulating in government laboratories. He was bringing up particle physics and his two master’s degrees in communications. After less than ten minutes we’d reached a hopeless impasse. ‘Listen, young lady,’ he said, angrily thumping his bible on the table for emphasis, ‘if you do not believe that every word of this book is true, I have nothing more to say to you!’ Chuck had nothing more to say to me but I had a whole book to write about people whose mind-set was more alien to mine than any I’d ever encountered. At that moment, I wished I could dismiss the man as easily as he had me, as a monomaniac fantasist with a living to make, and all my fellow tourists as lunatic fringe types, and Christian Zionism as no more than a passing fad. But Chuck was not just a fantasist. The friends I had made on the tour were certainly not lunatic fringe types, and Christian Zionism could never be described as a ‘passing fad’. The ideology’s long history shows that the roots of a belief that the Jews have a divine right to a land they last dominated some three thousand years ago run far too deep and strong to ignore. So deep and strong, in fact, that the activities of generations of Christian Zionists have accounted in astonishingly large measure for two vital milestones in Zionist history: Britain’s 1917 decision that a Jewish homeland must be created on land already inhabited by 700,000 Arabs; and America’s hasty de facto recognition of the state in 1948. It would be fair to say that without Christian Zionism there would probably be a Jewish state today, but it might not be in the Middle East. Reformed Christianity – based on a direct engagement with the Word of God rather than filtered through the traditions and doctrines of the Catholic Church – was the tradition that produced Christian Zionism in the early seventeenth century. Reformed Christianity is the religious inheritance of many nations. Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and all the Scandinavian countries have produced and continue to produce Christian Zionists. But Britain, the superpower of the nineteenth century, and America, the superpower of the twentieth century, have led the field. America, now home to a huge population of fundamentalist Christians and the largest Jewish diaspora anywhere in the world, is undoubtedly the main bastion of the movement today.

Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land


For most of the first three hundred years of its history, until the rise of Jewish Zionism in the nineteenth century, Christian Zionism was either popularly denounced as a form of ‘judaising’, or mocked as eccentric ‘Restorationism’ – a term referring to its proponents’ belief that the Jews must be ‘restored’ to the land they lost in ad 70. If modern Christian Zionists are primarily concerned with the fulfilment of End Times prophecy and with securing God’s favour for America, their predecessors were more interested in making the Jews’ return to their long-lost home contingent on their conversion to Christianity. Christian Zionist motives have rarely been selfless or disinterested. The stakes – eternal salvation and the triumph of Christian civilisation – have always been too high for sentiment. The Christian Zionist story begins in early seventeenth-century England, another famous hotbed of Christian millenarianism.

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PART ONE: 1621–1948

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chapter 1

‘One Book of the Whole Bible’

King James I of England and VI of Scotland had a lively sense of humour, so the new book of bible commentary he was perusing one day in the spring of 1621 made him laugh. On the basis of more than 200-odd pages of meticulously selected bible chapters and verses and some ingenious calculations, the book’s author was claiming that between 1650 and 1695, the Jews would be converted to Christianity and returned to their ancient homeland in Palestine, which would then become the mightiest, wealthiest kingdom in all of Christendom. The first two propositions struck James I as absurd enough. The Jews were famously stubborn in their ancient faith and scattered all over the world. And Palestine, Jerusalem included, was a remote and impoverished backwater that had been under the rule of the superpower of the day, the Muslim Ottoman Empire, since 1517. But the book’s author was also brazenly citing Genesis 12: 3 – ‘I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse’ – to suggest that every Christian ruler in Europe would be well advised to hasten to that same Jerusalem, sumptuously restored with streets of gold and pearly gates, to pay homage to an almighty King of the Jews. King James reportedly joked to a courtier that he would be eighty-four by 1650, far too old and poor to embark on any such expedition. Anyway, he would be ignorant of the correct protocol to follow once he arrived there. King James could laugh at such notions. Critics of Christian fundamentalism today also laugh at the belief that the modern state of Israel is the Israel of the Bible and the Israelis the equivalent of the ancient Israelites. They do not accept the divine, literal truth of every word of the Bible. King James was not a fundamentalist; he didn’t read every word of the Bible in its literal sense, or understand the Old Testament’s Israel as having any bearing on the Jews of his time. The Church of England,



which he headed, had stuck with the Roman Catholic line of interpretation: the non-national Christian church of the New Testament had supplanted the Old Testament’s nation of Israel in God’s favour as soon as the Jews rejected Jesus as their messiah. However, he did accept the ultimate authority of the Bible. James’s own claim to a divine right to rule over England and Scotland was as rooted in that authority as any of the assertions in the new book of commentary. So his amusement at the new book was soon replaced by fury. The author’s unorthodox harnessing of the scriptures to the cause of predicting the geo-political shape of things to come, things that diminished his royal dignity as a divinely appointed monarch of the nation that claimed to be leading the world in the reform of Christianity, was anathema to him. The assertion that the Jews would ‘come to Ierusalem againe, be kings and chiefe Monarches of the world, sway and governe all’ 1 smelt to him of treason. Dispatching copies of the The World’s Great Restauration, or the Calling of the Iewes and (with them) of all the Nations and Kingdomes of the Earth to the Faith of Christ to his synod of bishops at Westminster for routine censorship, James was mollified only when they, ‘with much Zeal, unanimously’,2 voted to ban it. The synod’s main objection was that its lingering descriptions of the fabulous prosperity and superpower status awaiting the Jews in Palestine ‘savoured too strong of the flesh’, being ‘too servilely addicted to the letter’.3 They ruled that copies of the work on sale at the ‘shop near the great North dore of Paul’s, at the signe of the Bible’ 4 be confiscated, and its anonymous author hunted down and incarcerated. An addiction to the letter of the Bible of the kind displayed in The World’s Great Restauration in 1621 – Christian fundamentalism, in today’s terms – was a natural side-effect of the early modern revolution in communications. First the invention of the printing press and then the translation of the Bible from Latin and Greek into plain English had been promoting what many welcomed as a happy democratisation of religion. But it had also led to what King James and his bishops deplored as a foolishly literal understanding of the scriptures, to precisely what critics of religious fundamentalism today characterise as a dangerous distortion of the faith. Almost a century before the fleeting appearance of The World’s Great Restauration King Henry VIII had launched the English Reformation by proclaiming himself head of the Church of England. He had also precipitated an important change in the way Englishmen perceived their faith and its scriptures by ordaining that ‘one book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in English’,5 rather than Latin, be available in every church in the

‘One Book of the Whole Bible’


land. After centuries of filtering Catholic controls, the Bible was a free-forall or, as the pre-eminent English historian of the period, Christopher Hill, has graphically put it, ‘a huge bran-tub’,6 from which an infinite number of conflicting but unassailable truths could be drawn. At liberty for the first time to enjoy unrestricted access to both the Jewish Old and the Christian New Testament, Englishmen like the author of the The World’s Great Restauration had begun developing and expounding their own notions about who God was, what he expected of Christians and what they, in turn, might expect of him. If a seventeenth-century English monarch could find precedents for his claim to divine appointment and Church of England bishops point to others to bolster their positions, the era’s religious fundamentalists, Puritans, were uncovering equally valid truths, especially in the Jewish Old Testament. In the hands of people like the author of The World’s Great Restauration the prophetic sections of the Old Testament became the key to unlocking God’s future plan for the Jews and the entire world. That was disruptive enough. In the hands of later Puritans, who feared that the English Reformation had not travelled far enough in the direction of the perfect theocratic state God had revealed to the ancient Israelites, the Jewish Old Testament would become a weapon to wield, first against the Church of England which sustained the monarchy and finally, with the execution of James’s son, Charles I, in January 1649, against the monarchy itself. Barely a month before that crime a speaker at Whitehall was heard to lament the banefully disruptive influence of the Jewish Old Testament on English politics: ‘Kings and Armies and Parliament might have been quiet at this day if they would have let Israel alone.’ 7

By the closing years of Elizabeth I’s reign in the 1590s and for the whole of James I’s reign and on until the Civil War and the regicide, the version of the Bible most commonly in use in England was the Calvinist Geneva Bible. The French theologian, John Calvin, was the most radical of all the sixteenth-century reformers battling to free the faithful from their subjugation to the Roman Catholic Church by acquainting them with the Word of God. Calvin taught that the only way to learn what God expected of one, and so the true meaning of one’s life on earth, was to sift through the Bible endlessly in search of meanings and messages. Much more than the Anglican or Lutheran reformed tradition, the Calvinist tradition is responsible for encouraging millions of American Christians



today to approach the Bible as they would a computer manual. The line linking Calvin to Chuck Missler and his ‘integrated message-system of supernatural origin’ is a long but perfectly straight one. Translated into clear English and helpfully arranged in verses as well as chapters, the later editions of the Geneva Bible were largely the work of Calvin’s close friend, a Burgundian named Theodore Beza. Where Calvin had highlighted Christians’ enduring bond with the ancient Israelites by emphasising the continuity between the Old and the New Testaments, Beza was the first to insist, in explanatory marginal notes, that the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Zion’ always and everywhere in the Bible referred to the Jewish people or their physical homeland. Beza claimed that the Christian Church of the New Testament had never, in some speciously self-serving Roman Catholic allegorical sense, supplanted the Jews in God’s favour. Here was the new Protestant movement firmly distancing itself from Catholicism, critiquing the Catholics’ neglect of the Old Testament. Naturally, the reinstatement of God’s Chosen People by the Calvinists had a great deal more to do with opposing Catholicism than with any real regard for Jews. Beza’s ‘large exposition of the phrases and hard places’ 8 in the Bible left no room for a pious Jacobean Puritan to doubt that the Jews remained a crucial element in God’s plan. Where St Paul’s letter to the Romans, 11: 28 – a firm favourite with Christian Zionists today – speaks of God’s continued concern for Jews in spite of their rejection of Jesus, Beza’s marginal note instructed his readers to remember the ‘debt the Gentiles owe to the Jews’ and understand that ‘the nation of the Jews is not utterly cut off, without hope of recovery’. In another note he firmly stated that all God’s old promises to the Jews about their ownership of their land could not be ‘frustrate and vain’, and he even claimed that a Jew had as much chance of being saved by God’s unfathomable ‘mercy and grace’ as any Christian. Beza warned that if reformed Christians were justified in hating Roman Catholics they must not be ‘glorying and bragging’ 9 about their superiority to the Jews. It was their job, he declared, to do God’s will and advance the divine plan by bringing Jews to a faith in Jesus Christ. King James hated Beza’s influential marginal notes so much that he banned all such commentary from his 1611 version of the Bible, but those notes were the bedrock authority on which the author of The World’s Great Restauration based his vision of a future Jewish superpower: ‘Where Israel, Judah, Tsion, Ierusalem etc, are named in this argument,’ he’d carefully emphasised at the start of his book, ‘the Holy Ghost meaneth not the spirituall Israel or the Church of God collected of the Gentiles ... but Israel properly descended out of Jacob’s loynes’.10

‘One Book of the Whole Bible’


Beza had illuminated New Testament teaching on the proper grateful conduct of a Christian towards the race that had produced both the Bible and Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament section of the Geneva Bible, which many were astonished to discover accounted for more than two-thirds of the scriptures, Puritan fundamentalists were finding other reasons to take an interest in the Jews. The Old Testament was the thrilling saga of a nation as proud and independent as the English, a nation chosen to be a ‘light to the nations’,11 just as the English had recently been chosen by God to showcase the superiority of reformed Christianity over Roman Catholicism. In the early seventeenth century, with the gains of that purified faith being threatened by the Catholic Counter-Reformation in Europe and insufficiently reforming Church of England bishops and rulers at home, many Puritans anxiously noted that the ancient Israelites had been similarly surrounded by enemies and betrayed by their rulers. And there were more ominous parallels. God had punished the ancient Israelites for falling short of the standard he’d set them, so why shouldn’t he similarly punish the English? In ad 70 he’d hurled the Jews out of their homeland and scattered them all over the world for their failure to welcome his son as their messiah. Why shouldn’t he hurl the English out of England for their retreat from the ideals of the Reformation? For decades, English Puritans lived in terror of such a cataclysmic national punishment. Many had been fleeing from its approach as well as from persecution by the Church of England, to the more congenially Calvinist Netherlands. By the 1630s – with King Charles I proving even less committed than his father to advancing the Reformation – thousands more were fleeing across the Atlantic to build a New England. The feared cataclysm did come, but in the traumatically bitter-sweet form of the Puritan Parliament’s abolition of the monarchy in 1648. In the same month King Charles I lost his head, January 1649, a pair of rejoicing Puritan exiles in Amsterdam furnished later generations of Christian Zionists with another vivid proof of early Christian interest in restoring the Jews to their homeland. Joanna and Ebenezer Cartwright, a mother and son, wrote a letter to Oliver Cromwell begging him to speed England’s divine rehabilitation by making her ‘the first and the readiest to transport Izraell’s sons and daughters in their ships to the Land promised to their forefathers’.12 The Netherlands had a large Jewish community in the mid-seventeenth century but England did not, having banished or murdered some 16,000 English Jews almost four hundred years earlier, on the orders of Edward I. Although Cromwell ignored the Cartwrights’ letter, he favoured



re-admitting the Jews. A good Calvinist, he respected God’s Chosen People. He also calculated they could be useful to him, both as spies against the Dutch and as merchants. Another powerful argument in favour of relaxing the ban was that, since they had to be converted before they could return to Palestine, there was surely no better way of persuading the Jews of the identity of their messiah than by exposing them to the high perfection of Cromwellian England’s reformed Christianity.

The Old Testament flavour of mid-seventeenth-century England was not solely the product of a fresh encounter with the Calvinist Geneva Bible. The previous century’s Renaissance had reawakened an interest in all classical learning, in the study of ancient Hebrew as well as ancient Greek and Latin. By 1540 both Oxford and Cambridge had acquired Regius chairs in Hebrew, occupied by a succession of European Jewish converts. At Cambridge, where Puritanism was particularly sturdily implanted, the study of the language in which God must have communicated with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and in which Jesus himself must have read the Jewish Old Testament, was especially encouraged. Rabbinical Hebrew commentaries on the Old Testament were much in demand and the Jewish roots of Christianity explored and prized, sometimes a little too wholeheartedly to be compatible with the Anglicanism preached by the Church of England. As early as 1589 James I’s predecessor, Queen Elizabeth, had felt sufficiently threatened by educated Puritans’ love of the Old Testament to have a Cambridge ‘doctor of physick’ named Francis Kett burnt at the stake. Kett had been causing a dangerous commotion in Norfolk by preaching a suspiciously Jewish-sounding creed about a Jesus who was not God but only a man currently engaged in ‘gatheringe his people together at Jerusalem in his owne person’.13 Kett had been advising his faithful to go to Palestine, where he promised they’d be ‘fed with Angelles foode’.14 Outbreaks of ‘judaising’, as its critics called such excesses of Old Testament zeal, would be a recurring feature of the seventeenth century. Judaisers spelt trouble for the Stuart kings and their bishops. When they were not fomenting unrest by behaving as if they were encircled by mortal enemies like the ancient Israelites, or pedantically aping some of the Jews’ more outlandish customs, or asserting the law of Moses above that of the land, they were far too often carried away by visions of cosmic violence and supernatural change caused by over-exposure to the writings of the Old Testament prophets, Daniel and Isaiah, and to the New Testament’s

‘One Book of the Whole Bible’


Book of Revelation. Close study of Bible prophecy tended to lead to precisely the sort of sensational forecasting and date-setting the author of The World’s Great Restauration indulged in, and which many Christian Zionists still engage in today. Where educated Puritans led, the less educated followed. Some three years before the appearance of The World’s Great Restauration, James I was made ‘exceeding merrie’ 15 at Sunday lunch by the news that a judaiser named John Traske, a lowly schoolmaster with a famously loud preaching voice, was so besotted with ancient Israel and its customs that he had forbidden his disciples to eat black pudding on account of the blood it contained. Not so ‘merrie’ was the fact that this hothead had sent James two letters of complaint about his sinfulness. Before embarking on a life sentence in London’s Fleet prison, Traske was ordered to pay a fine of a £1,000, undergo a public whipping, have his ears nailed to the pillory and his forehead branded with a ‘J’ for judaiser. The author of The World’s Great Restauration, the brain behind the book that first amused and then infuriated James I, turned out to be at least as well educated and therefore influential as Francis Kett. It didn’t take long to discover that this was Sir Henry Finch, a person with a career as illustrious as Chuck Missler’s, and similarly marred by bankruptcy. A Puritan gentleman of a good Kent family, a knight of the realm, a former Member of Parliament for Canterbury, an eminent lawyer of London’s Gray’s Inn, Sir Henry was a venerable sixty-three-year-old when he compiled his incendiary proto-Christian Zionist commentary. Blessed with an excellent command of Hebrew gained while at Cambridge and a solid reputation as an authority on monopoly law, his published work before 1621 had excited little comment. His first book had been a comparatively sober attempt to bring English common law more closely into line with Old Testament law. To anyone who complained that a lawyer had no business dabbling in theology, Sir Henry retorted that it was ‘far from being unmeett for a Gentleman of the Innes of Court to deale in these Holy Studies’; far better that Englishmen be guided by the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, which he described as ‘the Lord’s politickes’, than by Machiavelli, whom he denounced as ‘that cursed hell-hound’.16 Age and experience seemed to have radicalised rather than mellowed him. Where as a younger man Finch had refrained from recommending the death penalty for such offences as theft and copulation with menstruating women, as a literal adherence to the law of Leviticus and Deuteronomy would have required, the older Finch was abiding by the letter of bible prophecy so closely that he was daring to forecast its fulfilment in the rise of a Jewish superpower within a few decades. Fear for his solid legal



reputation might explain why he published ‘The World’s Great Restauration etc.’ anonymously, but some more powerful considerations must have been behind him publishing it at all. In the twenty years or so separating the appearance of his two books the political situation, at least in the view of a Puritan, had deteriorated alarmingly. King James might have been a wise theologian but he was also debauched and lazy and known to be so besotted with the charms of his favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, that he’d disgracefully neglected his Christian duty to combat Catholicism. Misruled, disordered and impoverished, England had become an ideal breeding ground for apocalyptic anxieties and sensational hopes of the kind Sir Henry Finch was peddling in 1621. If Finch had broken new ground with his exceptionally vivid detailing of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, he was not the first seventeenth-century author to slot the conversion of the Jews and their return to their land into a sequence of future political events that would lead to the end of the world. Mounting popular excitement at the approach of the apocalypse, as promised in books like Finch’s The World’s Great Restauration, had been infuriating the Church of England for a good decade already: ‘Good God! What a fine people have we here? Men in the Moone!’ was how Bishop William Laud derided their lurid forecasts, bitterly congratulating Catholics on keeping their ‘Frensie lock’d up’, while ‘we publish it in Print’.17 Bishop Hall of Norwich angrily held a growing band of such writers responsible for whipping up a fever of the kind that prevailed among the earliest Christians of the first century, who’d existed in a state of perpetual overexcitement at Jesus’s imminent Second Coming. He judged those feverish millenarians ‘deadly and pernicious’ enough ‘to make shipwreck of their own or others’ faith’.18 Finch’s emulators in the field of bible prophecy multiplied with the abolition of censorship in 1641, as the clash between Charles I and the Puritans pushed the country towards a civil war. Pamphlets of wild exegesis competed for attention and sales with tales of witches, wonders and crimes. Freelancing preachers provided entertainment and gained a mass following by expounding ever more sensational Bible truths about the approach of national and global apocalypse. A year after Charles I’s execution, in 1650, a preacher, a self-circumcised London goldsmith named Thomas Tany, proclaimed himself a Jew of the tribe of Reuben, and announced his immediate intention to lead the Jews back to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and become their king. A John Robins followed Tany’s lead. Offering to guide 144,000 Jews

‘One Book of the Whole Bible’


home to Palestine in accordance with the Book of Revelation, Robins gathered a group of admirers whom he commanded to eat ‘windy things, as Aples’.19 Oliver Cromwell had to contend with Levellers in his army and Fifth Monarchists in his parliament, both groups more Puritan, more uncompromisingly judaising, than he was. It has been estimated that by half way through the century, three-quarters of all Puritan writers were on fire with excitement at the approaching Second Coming and thousand years of peace.20 That intense excitement at being on the brink of the divinely ordained climax of human history, that nihilistic horror mixed with glee at the world’s overturning in violent convulsions which presaged Jesus’s Second Coming and a thousand years of peace, goes as far towards explaining the appeal of Puritan millenarianism as it does that of Christian Zionism today. Back in the still strictly censored England of the early 1620s Sir Henry Finch belonged to a small elite of mostly Cambridge university graduates who confined their heady conjecturing about how the world would end to works of academic exegesis. Judging by his choice of title for his own work, Sir Henry Finch must have read The World’s Resurrection or the General Calling of the Jews (1608) by a respected theologian named Thomas Draxe. Draxe had dealt, one by one, with what were obviously common points of discussion in the most elegant Puritan circles of the time. The book was dedicated to a Lady Lucie, Countess of Bedford, who was clearly anxious lest the ‘generall calling and conversion of the Jewes bee an occasion of the diminishing and rejection of the Gentiles’,21 and worried in case God didn’t keep his word – ‘Is not God changeable in his promises and covenant seeing that he cast off the Jewes whom formerly hee chose and loved?’ 22 Lady Lucie needed a time-frame, a schedule: ‘When is likely to be the time of the Jewes conversion, before the sacking and burning of Rome or afterward?’ 23 In a later work, Draxe, perhaps as radicalised as Finch by the state of England under James I, opined that the Jews would be converted and ‘temporarily restored into their own countrie, rebuild Jerusalem and have a most informed and flourishing commonwealth’.24 Both men, Draxe and Finch, probably owed their greatest debt to Thomas Brightman, another Puritan divine and a contemporary of Finch’s at Cambridge. Brightman was the first to discover in the prophecies a promise that the Jews’ conversion would be followed by their physical repatriation to Palestine: ‘What, shall they returne to Ierusalem again? There is nothing more certain, the Prophets do everywhere directly confirme it and beate uppon it’,25 he wrote in his commentary on St John’s Book of Revelation. Brightman envisaged a millennial era when the Jews would be



Christian and ‘the whole East shall be in obedience and subjection unto them, so that this people are not called Kings unworthily, in regard of their large and wide Iurisdiction and Empire’.26 Almost a thousand pages long and exuberantly confident, Brightman’s A Revelation of the Revelation first appeared in around 1609 in Latin in the Dutch Netherlands, where censorship was less strict than in England, but its thrilling larger message, that the end of the world and Christ’s Second Coming were nigh, ensured its translation into English, its smuggling back across the Channel and its discreet circulation. Brightman was holding out the enticing prospect that Englishmen then alive would see not only the conversion of the Jews and their return to Palestine but ‘a most long and doleful Tragedy which shall wholly overflow with scourges, slaughters, destructions’ 27 that would begin in 1650 but end in ‘a most glorious triumph’ 28 – the overthrow of the Antichrist. Evil incarnate in Brightman’s day was not an Iraqi Assyrian Christian, or an international diplomat, as some of Chuck Missler’s fellow prophecy buffs have suggested, but the Sultan of the Muslim Ottoman Empire. There is a similar exultantly urgent tone about Finch’s preface to The World’s Great Restauration. Addressed directly to Jews, even translated into Hebrew for their benefit, it went one better than Brightman by painting a dazzlingly attractive picture of the divine reward, all the ‘glorious and excellent estate’, that awaited the Jews in Palestine just as soon as they had recognised Jesus as their messiah: ‘dainties and iunketting dishes ... fat things and wine, not the ordinary and common sort, but fat things ...’ 29 This joyfully expectant mood suggests that Brightman and Finch were acquainted with the Jewish Lurianic kabbala. A theological system whose exultant spirit would go on to permeate the entire Jewish diaspora, including the nearby Amsterdam community, by 1650 this kabbala was a bravely defiant response to the cataclysmic eviction of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century. One of a small community of Ashkenazi Jews living in Palestine, Isaac Luria had evolved a comfortingly hopeful faith in a pacification and reordering of the world resulting from the eventual restoration of the Jews to their long-lost home. The Lurianic kabbala may have sowed the first seeds of Christian Zionism in England. Brightman and Finch certainly copied the typically kabbalistic practice of teasing out the dates of events predicted in the Bible by making one biblical day equivalent to a year and counting forward from some significant historical date. Both had alighted on 1650 as the crucial date by counting forward from ad 360, the year an earthquake had put a stop to the philo-Semitic Emperor Julian’s attempt to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

‘One Book of the Whole Bible’


Towards the end of the seventeenth century the eminent scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, would arrive at a much later date by counting forward from what he decided was the peak of Christian power in Europe: the crowning of the Emperor Charlemagne in the year 800. Newton was far nearer the mark than Brightman and Finch. He believed the Jews’ conversion to Christianity and return to Palestine might not occur until 1948; certainly not before 1899.30

Newton was free to conjecture on the Jews’ restoration by the end of the century, but back in the spring of 1621 Sir Henry Finch’s musings on the theme had been perceived as a serious national threat. Swiftly identified, he’d been arrested and imprisoned without trial. Attacked in Parliament and from the pulpit, by the Bishop of London and by an Oxford theologian, he’d been wittily described by a contemporary historian as someone who had ‘so enlarged the future amplitude of the Jewish state that thereby he occasioned to confining himself’.31 King James, however, didn’t punish Finch as he had the lowly schoolmaster, or as Elizabeth I had Francis Kett. Finch was neither branded with a J for judaiser nor burnt at the stake. After a mere two months and a sheepish climb-down in the form of a fulsome apology, he was pardoned, and freed to reinvent himself, as an assistant to a bishop who valued him highly as ‘the best heifer he could have ploughed with’.32 Finch died in 1625, the same year as the monarch he’d offended, of plague. It’s easy to imagine him as a vivid character, as a proto-Chuck Missler; monomaniacal and preposterously self-confident perhaps, but also dynamic, enthusiastic and funny. Simply, he may have been too attractive a personality for even a king to harbour a grudge against for long. A Dutch historian who visited seventeenth-century England described the average Englishman in terms that might have fitted Finch, but could easily be applied to Missler. In Emanuel van Meteren’s experience, Englishmen were ‘bold, courageous, ardent’, but also ‘very inconstant, rash, vainglorious, light ...’ 33 Historians, Zionist and Christian Zionist, have handsomely applauded Finch’s selfless sacrifice of his status, reputation and livelihood to the cause of a Jewish homeland,34 and even credited the elderly knight with being the first Christian to have understood Jewish history ‘as a unity stretching from the biblical times until the present and future days’.35 I prefer to view Finch’s proto-Christian Zionist commentary as a transparent attempt to cajole Jews into converting to Christianity with appeals to what he saw as their basest instincts: greed and hunger for prestige.



If Sir Henry Finch has earned his place in the pantheon of Christian Zionist saints, it’s for having been an early and skilled practitioner of the art of forcing a fit between contemporary Middle Eastern affairs and bible prophecy. His tale is perhaps most usefully viewed as a measure of the extent to which championship of Jewish restoration to Palestine in seventeenth-century England depended on the Jews converting to Christianity. This was the vital string attached to Christian Zionism in its earliest phases – in New England as well as in Old England. It was a string that would frustratingly delay Jesus’s Second Coming and the millennium. Naturally enough, the vast majority of Jews were no more inclined than they are today to exchange their ancient religion for that of their Christian persecutors, let alone admit to so large a fault as refusing to recognise their own messiah.

chapter 2

‘This New English Israel’

When a thousand Puritans set sail for New England in April 1630 there was every reason to fear that England’s sins were inviting ‘some heavy Scquorge and Judgment’ 1 from God, of the kind that he’d meted out to the ancient Israelites. Twelve years before the outbreak of the Civil War, King Charles I was even less well disposed towards the Puritans than his father James had been. His soon-to-be Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, loathed those holier-than-thou radicals with such a passion he was rooting them out of the Church, systematically hunting down members of their ‘malignant faction’, torturing their Puritan consciences by forcing them to wear lacy surplices in the old Catholic style, for example. One of Laud’s targets, a Puritan named Thomas Shepard, hastily took ship for the New World after Laud called him a ‘prating coxcomb’ and banned him from performing any of his duties. ‘If you do,’ Laud had thundered at him, ‘I will be upon your back and follow you wherever you go, in any part of the kingdom.’ 2 No idle threat. Another Puritan minister had to flee the country under an assumed name and in disguise to evade Laud’s spies. The need to escape an England that had become, not just ‘a labyrinth of error, a gulfe of griefe, a stie of filthinesse’,3 but also a hostile police state, had never been so great. Puritan identification with the sufferings of the Israelites during their Babylonian and Egyptian captivities was at its height. To those crossing the Atlantic in four ships in that spring of 1630, King Charles I was the tyrannical Egyptian pharaoh whose bondage they were fleeing and his ecclesiastical courts, like those of the Pharisees, ‘dens of lions and mountains of leopards’.4 Their flight across the ocean was a second Exodus, the Atlantic another Red Sea whose storms they weathered by the grace of God and the help of two daily services of worship, psalmsinging, fasting and keeping every Sabbath. Even the sailors played their



part on the nine-week voyage, marking the start of every new watch with a sung psalm and an improvised prayer. As they approached land and their new lives, their leader aboard the Arbella, John Winthrop, preached a first declaration of spiritual independence, a long, stirring sermon about the exemplary role of the perfect Christian community he had in mind for them: The Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as his owne people, and will command a blessing on us in all our ways ... we shall finde that the God of Israell is among us ... wee must consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all the people are upon us; so that [if] we shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world.5 It was Winthrop, the devoutly Puritan Cambridge-educated scion of a wealthy family of Suffolk cloth traders, who first saddled America with the task that the God of Israel had given the Jews, of being ‘a light to enlighten the world’. Winthrop’s powerful rhetoric has not only provided Americans with their finest self-image, but also planted deep in the American psyche the fearful Old Testament notion that national, rather than merely personal, sinfulness merits divine punishment. It’s not so hard now to see how the Christian Zionists’ insurance policy – divine protection for America in exchange for America’s ‘blessing’ of the state of Israel – has come to occupy such a central position in the ideology. To the unbounded joy of those Puritan pioneers, many of them men of Sir Henry Finch’s quality and status, the native American name of their first settlement, Nahum Keik, sounded like a ‘perfect Hebrew’ translation of the words ‘bosom of consolation’ or ‘haven of comfort’.6 They would soon rename it Salem, the Hebrew word for peace, ‘for the peace which they had hoped in it’.7 Any qualms they may have had about the justice of occupying land inhabited and used by native Indians were easily overcome by plentiful reference to precedents in Genesis 13–20: ‘Why may not Christians have liberty to go and dwell amongst them in their waste lands and woods as lawfully as Abraham did amongst the Sodomites?’ And had not Jacob ‘boldly’ fed his flocks in the land of the Canaanites? And, although Jacob had had to have a ‘special contract’ to take a kid from Laban, he had not had to pay him for grazing.8 Religious settler Israelis and Christian Zionists cite the same chapters and verses of Genesis today, in defence of their belief that the Occupied Territories are Israel’s by divine right and so there can never be a Palestinian state in the West Bank.

‘This New English Israel’


Back in England the Puritan émigrés had been members of a desperate and oppressed minority: ‘despised, pointed out, hated of the world, made a byword, reviled, slandered, rebuked, made a gazing stocke, called Puritans, nice fools, hypocrites, hare-brained fellows, rashe, indiscreet, vain-glorious’.9 Here in their New England they were the norm at last, the undisputed majority, at liberty to outlaw swearing, Christmas, religious holidays, excessive drinking, idleness, immodestly showy hair and dress styles and the sacrament of marriage. They would also observe the Jewish Sabbath; work would stop at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and no one would travel on Sundays. If they faithfully modelled themselves on the Israelites and their new home on the land God had given them, they would surely – as long as they obeyed God more faithfully than the ancient Israelites had done – enjoy his divine favour and prosperity. While no clear and detailed plan to create an ideal theocracy modelled on that of the ancient Israelites has been discovered, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that this was the desired result. The foundation stones of the new Massachusetts Bay Colony were, naturally, its churches, which occupied a central position in every new town and were established as soon as individual settlers had ‘covenanted’ with each other. Covenanting – the word used in the Bible to describe the promises God had made to the Israelites on condition that they obeyed him – entailed making mutual pledges about their beliefs and conduct. The colonists strictly limited church membership to those who could satisfy their fellows that they were truly the recipients of God’s grace. Any applicant for church membership unable to provide his examiners with a sufficiently dramatic account of how God had transformed his soul – what any evangelical Christian today would call a ‘personal testimony’ – was not welcome in any church fellowship and could not have a child baptised. In effect, only covenanted members of churches had the power and authority to determine the character and government of the new colony. Winthrop wrote off democracy as ‘the meanest and worst of all forms of government’,10 on the grounds that it constituted a manifest breach of the Old Testament’s fifth commandment. ‘Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you’ (Exodus 20: 12). By fleeing across the Atlantic the Massachusetts Bay colonists had won freedom from religious persecution, but they weren’t about to grant the same freedom to others. Within eight years of arriving in the New World, Winthrop was labelling Anne Hutchinson – a dissenter who claimed that direct divine inspiration was possible, without the filter of scripture – a heretic and an ‘American Jezebel’, and banishing her and her sixty followers from the colony.



Consciously modelling themselves on the ancient Israelites, the leaders of the colony were ‘God’s people in covenant with him’.11 A later visitor to Boston wonderingly noted that New England Puritans were ‘like the Jews – as like as like can be’.12 The fulsome terms in which Francis Higginson, a Puritan minister from Lincolnshire, described his new home in letters designed to entice those who had stayed behind to travel out to join the colony are very like those in which Sir Henry Finch described the soon-to-be superpower of Israel. The New England lobsters, Higginson wrote, were ‘so great and fat and luscious’ that he had already had his fill of them. There were turnips, carrots and parsnips ‘bigger and sweeter’ than in England, turkeys ‘exceeding fat, sweet and fleshy’,13 grapes four inches in diameter, squirrels, and perhaps lions. An answering letter from England contained a pious prayer that God would preserve the settlers and make them ‘worthy stones in buyldinge his new Jerusalem’.14 There were high hopes that the new colony would serve as a prototype for a renewed world over which Christ would reign for a thousand years, hopes which must have been tempered by the deaths of two hundred New Englanders during the first harsh winter, and the return of a further two hundred to old England the following spring.

Cotton Mather, the first historian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was the proud grandson of two early colonists, Richard Mather and John Cotton, and the son of Increase Mather. These four men, three generations of one family, worked harder through their activities and writings than any of their fellows to maintain and strengthen New Englanders’ hopes of the Second Coming promised in the Bible, and so also the bonds linking New England to Old Israel. Cotton Mather tells us that in the first twelve years of the colony’s existence, until the outbreak of the English Civil War, disaffected English Puritans of all ranks ‘kept sometimes dropping and flocking into New England’,15 so that it was soon ‘like an hive overstocked with bees’.16 Among those four thousand or so bees was his grandfather, John Cotton, an eminent Puritan divine from Boston in Lincolnshire and an ardent admirer of the ancient Israelite theocracy. On arrival in his new home in 1633, John Cotton – described by his grandson as ‘a becoming mediocrity’ to look at – preached a rousing sermon exhorting the settlers to feel as confidently invincible as the Old Testament’s Zerubbabel and Joshua because the Lord of Hosts was with them; he reminded them that they were building ‘a theocracy, as near as might be to that which was the glory of Israel’.17

‘This New English Israel’


It was said of John Cotton that he was the ‘prime man of them all in New England’ when it came to ‘a knowledge of Arts and Tongues and in all kinds of learning, divine and humane’.18 Cotton, like thirty-five of the 129 Oxbridge-educated early settlers, was a graduate of Emmanuel College Cambridge, a bachelor of divinity with some ten years of theological learning under his belt. He would certainly have brought as much of his library as he could to the New World – bibles, commentaries, prayer books, sermons and Hebrew, Latin and Greek grammars. Another early settler is on record as having arrived with twenty-three barrels of books, many of them in Hebrew. Those first settlers, the educated elite at least, were terrified by the very real prospect of their entire pious project foundering for lack of a properly educated second generation of churchmen. A proper education, even in that rugged outpost of English Puritanism, entailed a working knowledge of ancient Hebrew. Within ten years of the colony’s foundation, Cotton Mather’s paternal grandfather, Richard Mather, a Puritan divine from Toxteth in Lancashire, was involved in compiling the first American book, an ‘original metrical translation of the psalms made directly from the Hebrew’.19 Described as ‘a mighty man’ with a gigantic physical presence and a magnificent preaching voice, Richard Mather must have ideally qualified himself for fellowship in a church and a position of leadership with his heart-rending ‘testimony’ about his dedication to Jesus back in Lancashire at the age of eighteen: ‘the pangs of the New Birth were exceedingly terrible to him, in as much as many times when they were at Meals in the Family where he sojourned, he would absent himself to retire under hedges and other secret places, there to lament his misery before God’.20 In New England Richard Mather would devote more time and energy to maintaining religious orthodoxy and church discipline. In the year the colony’s first book appeared, America’s first college, Harvard, opened its doors to start remedying the feared shortage of educated churchmen. The speedy establishment of a place of learning was, as Cotton Mather noted in his history, strictly in accordance with another ancient Israelite precedent: ‘In every town among the Jews there was a school whereat children were taught the reading of the law; and if there were any town destitute of a school, the men of the place did stand excommunicate until one were erected.’ 21 At Harvard, where sons of ministers were sent at the age of twelve, the study of ancient Hebrew took precedence over all other subjects. Pupils had to be able to translate ‘out of Hebrew into Greek from the Old Testament in the morning and out of English into Greek from the New Testament in the evening’.22 In that harsh place, so far away from the sources and ideals of European learning,



where the urgent tasks of surviving the seasons and fending off attacks from the natives would have absorbed most of their energies, motivation to learn Hebrew must have been in short supply. The Cotton Mather clan produced some of the colony’s most notable Hebraists. After only a few months at Harvard, the first historian of America’s sixteen-year-old brother had perused the entire Hebrew Old Testament and was able to give a ‘good account of the academicall affairs among the ancient Jews’ 23 in fluent Hebrew. At the same age Cotton Mather was defending his thesis, ‘Hebrew punctuation is of divine origin’. His father, Increase Mather, had been among Harvard’s first intake and arrived at the belief that, since Hebrew was ‘an eastern wide-mouthed language which does remarkably expose to the eye the motions of the lips, tongue and throat’,24 it might be of use in communication with the deaf and dumb. As late as 1685, at the start of his fifteen-year stint as president of the college, when enthusiasm for the ancient tongue had waned, Increase Mather gave a long Commencement Day Oration in Hebrew. He was upholding a tradition that would endure all the way through the eighteenth century and on until 1817. Yale University, founded in 1701, would go a step further than Harvard by taking as its motto two Hebrew words which they chose to translate as ‘light’ and ‘truth’ – ‘Urim’ and ‘Thummim’ – but every one of the ten colleges founded before the American Revolution in 1775 offered Hebrew. Leading lights of American Christian Zionism today, writers and speakers on bible prophecy, are inclined – as Chuck Missler did at Caesarea – to pepper their commentaries with impressively erudite-sounding references to the ‘Hebrew’ text of the Old Testament.

One of the books John Cotton must have carried with him over the ocean to New England was a copy of his friend Thomas Brightman’s exultantly millenarian A Revelation of the Revelation – the same gigantic work that had inspired Sir Henry Finch’s ill-fated advocacy of repatriation of the Jews to Palestine a decade or so before. Like learning Hebrew, speculating about bible prophecy must have struck many of the colonists as a luxury they could ill afford in their new home. But Cotton boldly made it the subject of a series of lectures he delivered every Thursday at his Boston church between 1638 and 1641. Like Brightman, he believed the world was on the verge of the thousand years of glorious prosperity and peace ushered in by Jesus’s Second Coming. The year 1655 seemed to him the most likely date for a final showdown in Europe. He believed that in that year an alliance of ten Protestant

‘This New English Israel’


nations would triumph over the combined forces of Catholicism under the Antichrist Pope, a victory that would be either followed or preceded by the conversion of the Jews to reformed Christianity. That happy event would, in turn, draw Europe’s Protestant powers into allying themselves with the Jews for another war aimed at liberating Palestine from Ottoman rule. And the happy outcome of that conflict would inevitably be the reinstallation of the Jews in their ancient home. John Cotton believed that Jerusalem was the place to watch for the first signs of the approaching millennium. ‘Many of you may live to see it,’ he told his seventeenth-century New England audience, in precisely the same words many Christian Zionist speakers and writers on bible prophecy use to excite and energise their audiences today. John Cotton’s strict schedule of events leading up to the millennium of peace on earth may explain why the settlers were so slow to make a start on the work that the pious founders of the colony had declared to be the ‘main end of our plantation’:25 the conversion of the natives to Christianity. Cotton was of the opinion that there would be no mass Christianising of pagans until the Jews had been converted and, since that would not happen for another twenty years or so, there was no sense in subverting the divine schedule by bringing those pagans to Christ ahead of time. It was not until 1644 that a missionary effort got under way, almost by accident, when five natives – principally attracted by the chance to learn to read – volunteered their readiness to become Christians and to pay fines for displaying their naked breasts, or indulging in adultery, fornication, incest, rape, sodomy or bestiality. John Eliot, New England’s ‘Apostle to the Indians’, was another Cambridge graduate who had emigrated in 1631 in the hope of being able to enjoy and live by God’s Word without ‘human additions or novelties’.26 Remembering the harm that the Catholics’ Latin had wreaked on English Christianity for centuries, Eliot believed that no native could truly appreciate the Gospel unless it were presented to him in his own language. To that end he learned Algonquin, translated the Bible and travelled far and wide spreading the faith: ‘I have not been dry, night or day, from the third day of the week to the sixth; but so travel: and at night pull off my boots, wring my stockings, and on with them again and so continue ...’ he complained.27 But his flagging morale received a timely boost when a visiting English buccaneer told him that he had encountered circumcised natives a little to the south of the colony. Eliot began excitedly conjecturing that the Indians might not, after all, be pagans obliged to wait their turn to hear the Gospel; their circumcision, when added to other evidence of ‘usual things among the Israelites’,



seemed to him compelling proof that they must be Jews. Their language exhibited traces of Hebrew words, he discovered, and they were ‘much given to anointing of their heads’. The men separated themselves from their menstruating womenfolk and they liked dancing, especially after victories. They calculated time by nights and months, and held funerals with ‘grievous mournings and yellings for the dead’,28 in the ancient Israelite manner. Furthermore, they exhibited a tell-tale ‘great unkindness for our swine’ 29 which might, Eliot admitted, have been only because the settlers’ pigs ate clams, to which natives were also very partial. The weight of evidence available convinced Eliot that they were Jews. Others, not only in New England but also in the old England of the mid-1640s, which was gripped by millenarian fevers and racked by civil war, were eager to concur with his findings. The Bible spoke of the Jews being dispersed from ‘one end of the earth even unto the other’,30 so why shouldn’t there be Jews in the New World as well as the old? The American Indians must, they decided, be the descendants of one of the tribes of Israel that had been lost after their capture by the Assyrian king, Sargon, in 721 bc. Eliot’s theory received fresh corroboration in the form of a report that reached him from the Dutch Republic via England at the end of the 1640s. A prominent Jewish rabbi of Amsterdam, Menasseh ben Israel, a friend of many learned and eminent English Puritans, had heard a story from a converted Spanish Jew who had recently returned from South America, about a tribe of Jewish Indians he had encountered in the Cordilleras mountains, in what is today Colombia. This marvellous news about the American Jews was a sure sign that the Bible was true in every detail. When coupled with the popular belief that Jews must be dispersed even as far as England and converted before they could be gathered up and restored to Palestine, it contributed greatly towards Oliver Cromwell giving a sympathetic hearing to Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel’s 1651 request that Jews be welcomed back into England.

By 1660, the Puritan revolution in England had failed. A measure of intellectual sobriety had returned with the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. But more news of Jews, emanating from mainland Europe by the middle of the decade, would make a keen millenarian of Richard Mather’s youngest son, the second-generation New Englander, Increase Mather. In 1665 the suffering Jewish communities of Europe and the Ottoman Empire were abuzz with tales about the appearance of the Jewish messiah. A charismatic Ottoman Jew named Sabbatai Zevi, ablaze with the hopeful

‘This New English Israel’


spirit of the Lurianic kabbala, was preaching the imminent return of the Jews to a Palestine in which they would live as ‘lords, and whatever they order, the nations will be obliged to carry out, and every one of the uncircumcised will stand before a Jew like a slave before his master and be filled with fear and terror of what the Jew will command’.31 It was Sir Henry Finch’s old message, but home-grown and stripped of that worrying conversion precondition. It has been suggested that Sabbatai Zevi, who hailed from what is today the Turkish port of Izmir but was then Ottomanruled Smyrna, was not so much divinely as humanly inspired – by the millenarian notions of visiting English merchants, which he seized upon and adapted to his own purpose. Sabbatai Zevi had fixed on a more than usually precise date for his people’s restoration to Palestine: September 1666. In Gaza and Alexandria and Aleppo, and especially in Salonika where the Jewish community numbered 60,000, Jews flocked to follow him, preparing for imminent transplantation to the Holy Land by selling their homes and businesses, marrying as fast as possible and wearing penitential sackcloth and ashes. In German and Polish towns they processed through the streets bearing icons of their messiah and incurring the wrath of the authorities. Italian Jews named their sons Sabbatai, while in Sarajevo Jewesses dressed in white linen and slaughtered demons. London’s Jewish community was still tiny, but tales of the Jewish messiah enthralled Christian Englishmen too. Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that he knew of a Jew offering odds of ten to one on Sabbatai Zevi being proclaimed the King of the World within two years. The pan-European hullabaloo was only calmed when news arrived from Constantinople in early September 1666 that the Jewish messiah had appeased the wrath of the Ottoman Sultan and avoided summary execution by abandoning all his claims and converting to Islam. News of Sabbatai Zevi’s activities reached Increase Mather in New England seven months before this dismal denouement. It fired his prophetic imagination and sent him hurrying to his library of over a thousand volumes to consult the works of authorities like Thomas Brightman and his father-in-law, John Cotton. By the summer of 1666 he was eagerly buttonholing three Jews who visited Boston, labouring to convince them their messiah had arrived and, in the process, incurring the disapproval of his fellow church members. By the time his book, The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation, appeared in England in 1669 to wide acclaim, Increase had been forced to modify his views in the light of Sabbatai Zevi’s apostasy. But he argued that although the time was obviously not yet ripe for Jewish repatriation, it soon would be if only they’d accept that their messiah was



Jesus. He reasoned, just as Henry Finch must have done, that there could be no harm in playing up the idea of a future Jewish empire of ‘such glory as the like never was’ 32 if it made Jews more amenable to conversion. A year before his death in 1723, at the venerable age of eighty-five, Increase Mather wrote in his diary, ‘I desire nothing more than the conversion of the Jews’,33 and lamented that illness prevented him attending the baptism of a Jew who’d taught Hebrew at Harvard for the past forty years.

Increase Mather’s historian son outlived his father by only five years, and, for by far the greater part of his life, faithfully espoused all his father’s views. Father and son had been in full agreement on such matters as restricting church membership to those who could prove they’d been born again in the faith, and their common experience of life as a battle waged between the forces of light and angels and dark and demons. Although they had both had doubts about the conduct of the Salem witch trials in the late 1690s, that collective trauma had not shaken their belief in evil spirits. Increase would have found nothing to argue with in his son’s assertion that ‘there are devils ... the Air in which we breathe is full of them ... they have so much liberty that until the Second Coming of the Messiah into this lower world they may range and rove about ... our air is full of them as with flies in mid-summer’.34 And Cotton Mather had had no trouble believing that his father was a prophet in the mould of the Jewish prophets, after Increase forecast that a great fire would destroy whole streets and his own Boston church in 1676, and warned that a smallpox epidemic, in which ‘the slain of the Lord would be many’,35 would devastate the colony two years later. It was only towards the end of his life that Cotton Mather discovered he could no longer concur with his father’s views concerning the Jews. He’d long believed that the time for the fulfilment of the prophecy regarding their restoration must be 1697 and that the millennium would start in 1716. But that meant there was precious little time for the entire Jewish race to see the error of its ways and convert to Christianity. For a long while he’d worried that there were so many of ‘the Israelitish nation’ – 10,000 of them in Prague, 10,000 more in Rome, ‘vast numbers’ of them in Poland, in Constantinople and Salonika 36 – that the conversion could be achieved only en masse and by supernatural means. For most of his life he’d believed, just as his father, Thomas Brightman and John Cotton had done, that Jesus would have to put in a brief and

‘This New English Israel’


dazzling appearance to effect the national conversion of the Jews, but gradually he found himself doubting even this expedient. The Jews, he thought, would probably have to be brought to Christ by conventional human means, and who better than he to undertake the task? By April 1699 he’d written ‘a catechism of the whole Christian religion’ in which he cleverly employed only proofs drawn from the Old Testament. He noted in his diary that he’d written its preface – ‘an Address unto the Jewish Nation, telling them in some lively terms, that if they would but return to the Faith of the Old Testament and believe with their own blessed Patriarchs, this was all that we desired of them or for them’.37 His ‘lively terms’ included a high-handed reminder of the Jews’ ‘damnable rebellion against God’ and an impatient demand that they hurry up and convert because all of Christendom was ‘waiting and longing for the Approaching Time’.38 Not until a year before he died did Cotton Mather jettison his belief in the Jews’ special role as a nation rather than as individuals in God’s plan for his world. He records in his diary how, with much sorrow and breast-beating, he prayed to his deceased father, calling him ‘Adoni Avi’ – Hebrew for ‘My Lord, My Father’ – begging to differ with his views on the Jews. In thirty-six pages of his late work Triparadisus he presented a closely reasoned, very modern-sounding argument for viewing the crucial passage in St Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 11 – the same one Theodore Beza had glossed so influentially in the Geneva Bible back in the 1560s – as a prophecy already fulfilled, as long ago as ad 70. At the root of his difference with his father seems to have been his inability to ‘imagine that God has special regard for one nation over another’, simply because such an attitude would be ‘very derogatory to the glory of our God, very contradictory to the language of the Gospel’.39 Cotton Mather was both challenging John Winthrop’s Old Testament vision of a Most Divinely Favoured Nation status for New England and bravely confronting the old Bible as bran-tub problem. Believing in Old Testament prophecies about the Jews as a nation meant ignoring some of Christ’s most important New Testament teachings about how he had come to save anyone and everyone, not one or other nation. Cotton Mather chose the Christian God of the New rather than the Hebrew God of the Old Testament. In essence, his point is the same that any theologian critic of Christian Zionism would make today. One such is Dr Stephen Sizer, a Church of England evangelical vicar. In Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? (2004) Dr Sizer has recalled how the Apostle Peter was brought to a vivid



understanding that God has, to use Cotton Mather’s words, no ‘special regard for one nation over another’.40 After Jesus’s death and resurrection Peter received a divine instruction to go to Caesarea to visit a Gentile Christian, a Roman centurion named Cornelius. He did as he was told and concluded from the encounter ‘that God shows no partiality, but in any nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him’.41 Cotton Mather’s painfully arrived at change of heart about the Jews rendered him a man of the dawning Age of Enlightenment, a true harbinger of the eighteenth century which would afford a brief respite in the rise of Christian Zionism.

chapter 3

‘The English Madness’

‘These oaks shall remain standing and the hand of man shall not be raised against them till Israel return and is restored to the land of Promise.’ 1 So said the last will and testament of an eccentric old lady of Exmouth in Devon with regard to a grove of old oak trees on her property. And so it came about in 1811 that a romantic young evangelical Christian – a visitor from London who happened to be riding by the grove – resolved to devote his life to the project of converting the Jews and returning them to Palestine. An Old Etonian, an Oxford graduate and a lawyer, a cheerful and energetic and pious young man, Lewis Way had long been casting around for a way to spend a windfall fortune of £300,000. Now his life’s purpose was clear. The holy challenge would require ‘more than the faith of Abraham, the perseverance of Moses and the patience of Job’,2 he calculated; Palestine was still a remote and impoverished backwater of the Ottoman Empire and the Jews still as stubborn in their faith and scattered throughout the world as they had been in Sir Henry Finch’s day. But Way was undaunted. After asking the local bishop for advice on how to set about his task, he addressed himself to a new organisation named ‘The London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews’ and alleviated its financial woes with a generous gift of £12,500. That was just the start. Way immersed himself in the study of Hebrew, the Bible and Jewish history, and made a list of the instances of appalling English injustice towards the Jews – from the eleventh-century reign of King Canute to King Edward I’s expulsion of all Jews from the country in 1290. The Jewish community in England at this time was around 20,000 – mostly Eastern European Ashkenazis. Galvanised by pity and prophecy, he began to seek out other people interested in how the arrival of the millennium might be hastened by converting England’s Jews and relocating them in Palestine.



At Stansted Park, his elegant stately home on the border between Sussex and Hampshire, Way opened an informal academy for any Jews demonstrating a willingness to fall in with his scheme. Comfortably accommodated and well fed, they were baptised and shorn of their beards and side-locks before being instructed in a Hebrew version of the Christian Bible, the working of a printing press and the art of donkeyriding, skills which Way believed would facilitate their future work as missionaries to their fellows in the Middle East. Rude abuses of his hospitality, such as the abrupt disappearance of sixteen of his guests with the household’s supply of silver spoons, could not deflect Way from his grand purpose. Nor could sour criticism of ‘this trade in conversion’,3 or a mocking popular rhyme about Way loving the Jews and the Jews loving his spoons. By 1817 he had spied another ideal opportunity to further his beloved cause. The pious Tsar Alexander I of Russia had invited the emperors of Austria and Prussia to join him in a ‘Holy Alliance’ to combat the threat of godless revolution on the French model. Way wondered if the emperors might also be persuaded to begin removing the stain of centuries of antiSemitism from Europe by extending common principles of Christian conduct to the treatment of the Jews in their realms. In the belief that he could persuade them to pressurise the Ottoman Sultan into letting Jews buy land in Palestine, and to offer any Jews who moved east their joint imperial protection, he resolved to travel all the way to Russia to lobby Tsar Alexander in person. Fired by enthusiasm – at the time, a pejorative term applied to those who took scripture too seriously – Way ignored an uncle’s exasperated complaints that he had fallen prey to ‘visionary flightiness’ and ‘bid adieu to the beggarly elements of Common Sense and Discretion’.4 He had a large, well-sprung carriage constructed and some portraits of his pregnant wife Mary and their four children painted and packed in a Moroccan leather red portfolio. In late 1817, he set out across Holland, Germany and Poland to Russia, planning to be gone a year. ‘Ever your old Wandering Jew’ 5 was how he cheerfully signed a letter to his Mary on reaching Riga on the Baltic Sea, where snow forced him to abandon his carriage for a sleigh and acquire a couple of bearskins for warmth. Dispensing free copies of the Bible in Hebrew to Jews he chanced to meet on the road, he made light of any angry response to his evangelising. In Minsk, today the capital of Belarus, he and his assistant addressed a gathering of two hundred Jews whose murmurs of irritation grew louder whenever the words ‘sin’ and ‘saviour’ were mentioned. The indomitable Way reported, ‘Hitherto we had tried nothing but bush-

‘The English Madness’


fighting and skirmishes, but here we were in the midst of the enemy, and verily had a brisk encounter ...’ 6 Arriving at last in St Petersburg he was only momentarily disconcerted to discover that Tsar Alexander was almost 400 miles to the south, in Moscow. Once in the old Russian capital he and his companions took up residence in a large wooden house of the kind hurriedly erected after 1812 when the Muscovites checked Napoleon’s advance by burning down their own city. There he patiently awaited a summons to the Kremlin. When at last it came, he was not disappointed. A boyish forty-oneyear-old whose semi-miraculous eleventh-hour deliverance from defeat by Napoleon happened to have awakened in him a passionate penchant for bible prophecy, Tsar Alexander was, in Way’s opinion, ‘exactly what Israel [the Jews] wants at present’.7 Immediately drawn to Way’s project, Alexander graciously informed him, ‘I consider your coming to Russia as a providential occurrence of circumstance – each must do his part, and in time, by the blessing of God, all will be achieved.’ 8 The Russian Emperor and the eccentric English gentleman met four times, speaking in a mixture of French and English, sitting ‘toe to toe, tete a tete’ 9 because the Emperor was a little deaf, cosily consolidating their friendship by reading the Bible together. When Alexander travelled south, Way followed him to the Crimea and enjoyed another imperial audience, at which he read Mark 13 and the Tsar read the more hair-raising Revelation 13–16. And when Alexander insisted that Way delay his going home for a few months in order to attend an international congress at Aix-la-Chapelle in November 1818, Way agreed and undertook to prepare a detailed proposal on the restoration of the Jews for the occasion. At Aix-la-Chapelle, ‘Dear Alexander shook me by the paw like an old friend!’ Way merrily reported home, ‘and I drank the health of Old Eton with former Etonians, in champagne.’ 10 Way’s was very far from being the main business of the gathering, but his lucid laying out of the religious, moral, political and administrative advantages of a Jewish return to Palestine before the glittering assembly of three European emperors and assorted illustrious statesmen was kindly received. The romantic tale of his personal conversion to the Jews’ cause went down especially well, as did his modified appeal for tolerance: ‘What I plead for on behalf of this distressed people is civil and political freedom. It is vain to ask the Jews to become Christian otherwise.’ 11 A clause was duly inserted in the Congress’s final document, to the vague effect that each of the undersigned European powers would give their Jews social and civil rights if, in return, Europe’s Jews undertook to improve their morals and abandon their antisocial habits.



But the Aix-la-Chapelle Congress was Lewis Way’s finest hour. Tsar Alexander’s pious enthusiasm for prophecy died when he died, in 1825. Under his brother Nicholas I, the miserable plight of Russia’s Jews only worsened. Way’s precious, hard-won clause was politely ignored by the other European powers. Still fixed on his dazzling final goal, Way’s gaze shifted east, towards Jerusalem. During a trip to the Holy Land he met Prime Minister William Pitt’s niece, the famously eccentric Lady Hester Stanhope who shared his enthusiasm for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, because she believed she’d lead them there herself. But Lady Hester was so unstoppably talkative that Way was forced to retreat, exhausted by whole nights of her conversation. And, seeing that his attempts to distribute 10,000 bibles were unsuccessful, he sailed for home disappointed. When a serious falling out with the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Amongst the Jews occurred because Way was deemed to be too eccentrically fixated on prophecies about the End Times that must follow the conversion of the Jews, he huffily withdrew his financial support for the organisation. Retreating into a sad exile in Paris, prematurely aged by his self-imposed challenge, he died in 1840.

Lewis Way’s life span – the almost seventy years between 1772 and 1840 – coincided with the heyday of evangelical Christianity in England. The weary and worldly Church of England, firmly re-established since the failure of the Puritan experiment and the demise of Cromwell’s republic, was back on the defensive again. Wesleyan Methodism was forcing it to accommodate a refreshed Puritan seriousness about the Word of God. The old emphasis on the defining ‘born-again’ experience was back in vogue. To this more or less familiar mix evangelicals were adding a new ingredient: a busy reforming energy channelled into some 10,000 new charities, foreign missions and societies like the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Amongst the Jews. This was the era in which William Wilberforce famously battled for the abolition of slavery and the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury bullied a succession of British governments into improving the conditions of lunatics, prostitutes, factory workers and chimney-sweeps and, as we shall see, of the Jews. The evangelicals’ need to anticipate a millennial reign of peace on earth by building a new ‘Jerusalem in England’s green & pleasant Land’ *


William Blake’s poem was written in 1804.

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was an urgent one. An era of uncertainty and change as unsettling as that produced by the Reformation had dawned. The Americans’ war of independence from England in 1776, then the French Revolution in 1789, and finally the spectacle of Napoleon striking out towards the Middle East before overturning thrones and the Pope in mainland Europe had all been profoundly disturbing to witness. Evangelical Christianity’s spread, beyond the English working classes among whom Wesley had launched his mission, was assured as soon as the landed gentry and the wealthy merchant and professional classes recognised a simple fact: unless they applied themselves to the basic Christian mission of caring for the poor and disadvantaged in society, they risked being forced into exile, if not butchered alive in a popular revolution. A pious Christian like Lewis Way might have spent his fortune promoting temperance among the workers of northern mill towns, or on primary schools, orphanages or poor houses. But Way’s sensitive soul had been both afflicted and energised by the turmoil all around him and the signs that an old world was passing away in violence to make way for a new age of peace. He had lavished his time and money on Jews because he believed this would allow him to play a part in bringing about that new millennial age, not just in England, but on earth. Interest in the Jews and events preceding Jesus’s Second Coming had not entirely vanished with the collapse of the Puritan project in England, but had been confined to the more esoteric reaches of science and philosophy. The study of bible prophecy was still an eccentric hobby when Lewis travelled to Russia to see the Tsar. But he and Alexander I were not alone in watching for the signs of the times. Largely thanks to a writer named Pierre Jurieu, the French were discovering a new starring role for themselves in God’s schedule, and the young future Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia was as sympathetic as Way to the Jews’ plight on account of bible prophecy. In the year Way was born, two years before the American colonies revolted, the Unitarian * clergyman and distinguished scientist, Joseph Priestley, had dared to opine that the Jews’ repatriation to Palestine might, after all, take place before their conversion, at the instigation of a Jew claiming descent from King David. Like Sir Henry Finch, Priestley had addressed himself directly to Jews in his writings, outlining a glorious future for them as ‘the most illustrious’ 12 nation on earth and warning

* Unitarians do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God; and therefore do not believe in the Holy Trinity.



– presumably on the authority of the Genesis verse about the different fates befalling those who blessed and cursed the Jews – that ‘the heaviest of all divine judgments will fall upon those nations by whom they shall have been oppressed’.13 In 1794, Priestley, like the first New Englanders, fled religious persecution to America. Priestley’s views were avant-garde but bible prophecy was slowly making a comeback, especially among the clergy. If between 1700 and 1740 only one author had treated the subject of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, citing seventeenth-century authorities, there had been two such works in the 1760s, and a handful in the 1770s when Priestley was addressing the matter. Within a year of the French Revolution in 1789 an eccentric Lincolnshire vicar was indulging in calculations involving the vernal equinox and 70024843203 seconds in order to arrive at the following year, 1791, as the most likely date for the return of the Jews to Palestine. Advising Jews that the English would surely take the lead in bringing about that return, he soberly pointed out the economic advantages in having a new Jewish client state in the Middle East, one that would require ‘many manufactured articles’ 14 – English woollens and linens, for example. No fewer than fifty books on the subject of the Jews’ return to Palestine were published between 1796 and the end of the century.15 The flood of words had become a raging torrent with the Pope’s exile from Rome by Napoleon in 1797 which, for those with eyes to see it, was ‘a prophetic Rosetta Stone’ 16 and a sure sign of the approaching End Times. In 1800, when Napoleon’s foray into the Middle East remained unchecked, a Scottish magazine reported on prophetically raised expectations: ‘It is rumoured that he proposes to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem and re-establish the Jewish hierarchy and government in all their ancient splendour in the Holy Land, to which he will invite that people [Jews] from all the nations of the world among whom they are scattered’.17 A Scottish divine named James Lunn was predicting the overthrow of the Antichrist in either 1812 or 1828 and calculating that the final defeat of the Ottoman rulers of the Holy Land at the Battle of Armageddon must occur in 1897. Just as today’s Christian Zionists point to the existence of the state of Israel as unassailable proof of the truth of the Bible, Lunn pointed to the survival of the Jews, in spite of their lack of a homeland for eighteen hundred years, as ‘a standing miracle and testimony to the truth of our religion’.18 By 1807, a vicar of Stockton-on-Tees was asserting that the honour of repatriating the Jews would go to whichever ‘state of Protestant Europe shall possess a decided naval superiority’ 19 – presumably not France. Superpower Britannia was ruling the waves at the time.

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That turbulently hopeful era also bred lowlier, more colourful judaisers in the style of the seventeenth century’s Traske, Tany and Robins. Lewis Way was a young man of twenty, still more than ten years away from discovering his life’s true purpose, when an obscure former navy officer named Richard Brothers proclaimed himself the ‘Prince and Prophet of the Hebrews’ who would be masterminding the Jews’ repatriation to Palestine in six years’ time. Brothers assumed that the Jews would convert to Christianity, but was at least as interested as Sir Henry Finch in imagining what a Jewish state – effectively a new British colony, under his own rule – would be like. He sent out appeals for contributions to nations as far-flung as Abyssinia and Japan; from Russia, for example, he required 400 shiploads of timber, 6,000 barrels of beef, 40,000 tents, 100 large wagons and 800 wheelbarrows, and he expected England to contribute 100,000 tons of coal and 90,000 sacks of flour.20 In a letter to a trusted female admirer whom he graciously appointed his future Queen of the Hebrews, he wrote a megalomaniac ‘to do’ list: ‘I have first to divide it [Palestine] into numerous portions, then get it cultivated with the plough and the shovel, to sow and plant trees; I have harbours to make for shipping, and store houses for immediately receiving what is landed from them; high roads to make; and water courses to form; materials to provide and cities to build ...’ 21 His favourite pastime was meticulously designing a Jewish Palestine’s flags, palaces and military uniforms. Brothers caused a sensation and had many admirers, among them a Member of Parliament and an ex-serviceman who funded the printing of his best-selling books. A person styling himself ‘book seller to the Prince of Hebrews’ 22 stocked fifteen different titles in support of Brothers’s prophecies. Brothers’s plans for Palestine aside, he had tapped into the old English Puritan fear that a calamitous divine punishment was about to be visited on England. The French Revolution represented God’s judgment on all monarchies, he announced, proceeding to forecast the imminent demise of King George III and the destruction of London by a natural disaster. In much the same way as John Traske had sealed his fate by slandering King James I in 1618, Richard Brothers earned himself arrest, a charge of treason and a spell in a lunatic asylum for his dismally disrespectful prophecies. But he was only the first and most renowned of the early nineteenthcentury judaisers. In 1814 a sixty-five-year-old Devonshire upholsteress named Joanna Southcott declared herself a virgin about to give birth to a messiah named Shiloh who would lead the Jews home to Palestine. In 1825 a Leicestershire woman named Mary Seddon gathered together a band of



Jews and set off in the direction of Jerusalem on a white donkey. The odd cavalcade had reached Calais by the time her husband retrieved her and deposited her in a lunatic asylum. By the early 1840s a specialist in the treatment of religious delusions was addressing the public perception that religious insanity was on the increase in England. In a work entitled Observations on the Religious Delusions of Insane Persons Nathaniel Bingham identified ‘terror inspired by fanatical preaching, perplexity of mind from studying controverted subjects, or endeavouring to unravel the mysterious parts of the sacred writings, or the misapplication of particular texts’ 23 as pastimes particularly conducive to insanity. He drove home his point by highlighting the pitiful case of the influential French author, Pierre Jurieu, a translation of whose popular commentary on the Book of Revelation had vastly contributed to a resurgence of millenarian interest in England. Monsieur Jurieu, Bingham claimed, had ‘so disordered his brain’ while writing his sensational commentary that ‘he firmly believed that the violent colics with which he was tormented arose from the continual engagements of seven knights who were shut up in his bowels’.24 A ‘Restorationist’ – an advocate of returning the Jews to their ancient homeland on the grounds of bible prophecy, a nineteenth-century Christian Zionist, in other words – was frequently dismissed as, if not downright ‘mad’, then at least ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘eccentric’. In a survey of England’s cultural engagement with the Holy Land in the nineteenth century, Eitan Bar-Yosef has observed that due to this association with insanity, the dream that Lewis Way chased all his life was far from the popular cause both Zionist and Christian Zionist historians claim, but was ‘a desire very reluctant to speak its name’.25

Restorationism’s dubious reputation had worried Way. In 1826 he had suggested to a bible prophecy enthusiast – a wealthy banker and Member of Parliament named Henry Drummond, a man once described by the historian Thomas Carlyle as ‘well-nigh cracked by an enormous conceit of himself’ 26 – that they organise a gathering of anyone, ‘without distinction of sect or party’, who shared their belief in ‘the Jewish and Christian hope’.27 Then, as now, any variety of bible-reading Christian might harbour Christian Zionist sympathies. Drummond obligingly offered to host a six-day conference at his large country mansion, Albury Park, in Surrey. Most of the thirty participants were Anglican or Dissenting churchmen, but two of the more colourful were Joseph Wolff, a Jewish convert, a credit to the London Society for

‘The English Madness’


Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews and an authority on ancient languages including Hebrew, and Edward Irving, a fashionable Scottish minister whose sermons had been drawing gigantic crowds to his church in London for the past three years. It was reported that on one Sunday so many peers of the realm and minor royalty attended Irving’s Caledonian Church in Hatton Garden that the line of thirty-five parked carriages reached all the way to Holborn. Irving’s ‘perfection of pulpit action’,28 which involved standing on one leg, on tiptoe and stretching an arm above his head, was especially appreciated by women. A pronounced squint augmented the thrilling effect of his preaching on the Book of Revelation and his furious railing against the ‘light, empty and profane’ 29 nature of the times. Infused with a love of Puritan writings and despair of the established churches of England and Scotland, his performances seem to have inspired the same heady mix of hope and dread as the writings and lectures of leading Christian Zionists do today. ‘He has found out the secret of attracting and repelling’ 30 was how the literary critic, William Hazlitt, accounted for Irving’s success. William Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy remarked, ‘He wholly wants taste and judgment, but an essential I give him full credit for – sincerity’.31 In 1828 Irving’s bloodcurdling ‘sincerity’ – that heady cocktail of horror and glee – would draw such a vast crowd to a church in Kirkcaldy that a gallery collapsed, causing 28 deaths and 50 injuries. Irving’s interest in prophecy was founded on a powerful sense that a fatally corrupted Christendom was hurtling so speedily towards disaster that Jesus must stage his Second Coming sooner rather than later, after the conversion and restoration of the Jews, but well before the dawning of any thousand-year reign of peace and prosperity; perhaps as early as 1867. Like the Puritan Thomas Brightman, Irving was a pre-millennialist – a post-millennialist * being one who believed, as most of those cheerfully busy evangelicals did, that Christ would not reappear until the end of the millennium of peace which they were working at creating by their own efforts. Pre-millennialism not only fitted naturally with Irving’s romantically pessimistic view of a world beyond repair, it intensified the thrill by bringing the End Times closer. It also obviated the need to engage in any slow, thankless striving towards a man-made millennium. All these factors explain why the pre-millennial position is the most widely favoured

* A-millennialists are those who understand the millennium as allegory and who therefore do not expect a thousand-year reign of peace on earth.



by American Christian Zionists today. Irving would be astonished at the gigantic spread of his views because when he arrived at his pre-millennial position in 1825 he ‘did not know of one brother in the ministry’ 32 who agreed with him. Lewis Way and most of the rest of the Albury group seem to have come to share Irving’s pre-millennial views, and he was as eager as any of them to discover the role that the Jews would be playing in the End Times; one ardent fellow Restorationist described him as ‘Jew-mad’.33 On the agenda for discussion at that first ‘Albury Conference’ were four weighty themes, one of which was ‘the present and future condition of the Jews’. The schedule for the week was punishing. Participants convened at eight every morning for prayer and the presentation of the day’s topic. After breakfast at nine they strolled around the grounds discussing that topic until eleven, when they reconvened for more prayers. A further five hours of conference about their various findings, with Joseph Wolff’s helpful elucidation of relevant Hebrew texts, ended with another prayer session, and was followed by dinner at 4 p.m. After a couple of hours’ respite they were hard at work again, thrashing out any last difficulties, before stopping to sing a hymn, say a prayer and retire to bed at around eleven.34 At the close of what Irving called their ‘Prophetic Parliament’ he pronounced it a total success. All participants had agreed that the present age was not headed happily and gradually into any millennium, but would shortly be terminated by a period of cataclysmic suffering such as that which had ended the Jewish era in ad 70. The restoration of the Jews to Palestine must occur, they all agreed, during this period of suffering. Irving’s biographer has characterised the bond forged among the Albury group as that of an elite of code-breakers, of ‘a patriotic band of conspirators furnished with all the information and communications in cipher which cannot be given at length to the common mass’.35 The description rings especially true if one has been exposed to a modern Christian Zionist decoder of bible prophecy like Chuck Missler, and it casts a useful light on the ideology’s especially strong appeal for men who work or have worked in intelligence and computer programming. Albury Park hosted a prophecy conference once a year until 1830, when the venue moved across the Irish Sea to Powerscourt Castle, near Dublin, the home of Lady Theodosia Powerscourt, a keen female student of bible prophecy and a habituée of the Albury Park events. Lady Theodosia was also a beautiful, wealthy and pious young widow; to one admiring contemporary she seemed ‘as if she lived in heaven and barely touched the earth’ 36 and looked angelic while singing hymns. Like Edward Irving, who

‘The English Madness’


graced at least one of her conferences with his presence, Lady Theodosia lamented the corruption and decay all around her and longed for Jesus’s Second Coming. ‘The church and the world are like tumbled drawers,’ she wrote to a friend. ‘May the great head of the Church, the King of the Universe, quickly come and put us all in order!’ 37 The Powerscourt prophecy conferences were far grander than the Albury Park ones. Twice a day the doors of the castle opened to welcome the local gentry, the ladies all in evening dress. There were times when the crowd puzzling over pressing Restorationist conundrums like ‘By what covenant did the Jews, and shall the Jews, hold the land?’ or ‘What light does Scripture throw on present events and their moral character’ 38 numbered up to four hundred. If the Scotsman Edward Irving was the star attraction of the Albury Park conferences, an Irishman named John Nelson Darby was easily the dominant voice and personality of the Powerscourt ones. But where Irving had become a fashionable preacher, Darby had chosen a less public route, gathering about him a small group of like-minded people who met as the earliest Christians had, informally for detailed bible study. They, along with others in England, would make up the core of the millenarian sect known as the Plymouth Brethren (the sect’s stronghold was in Plymouth, Devon). Where Irving’s prepossessing physical presence had guaranteed him a fond female following, Darby was less than attractive to look at. A male friend even recalled feeling a ‘strong revulsion’ on first meeting him: ‘A fallen cheek, a bloodshot eye ... a seldom shaved beard, a shabby suit of clothes ...’ 39 Nevertheless, at least as eccentrically charismatic as Irving, Darby also shared the older Scotsman’s gloomy pre-millennialist views; a churchman who attended a Powerscourt conference claimed he had never experienced ‘a more awful sense of coming evil’.40 If Darby honed his pre-millennialism with Irving’s help, he never acknowledged a debt and always claimed to have been directly inspired by his own close reading of the Bible. This refusal to admit to any human influences may explain why he, rather than Irving, is credited with being the father of a theological system known in America today as ‘pre-millennial dispensationalism’. If the first word refers to the belief that Christ must come again before the dawning of any thousand years of peace, the second refers to the theory that the entire trajectory of human history, as recorded in the Bible, is divided into a number of eras – biblical ‘dispensations’. One of the dispensations was the pre-ad 70 Jewish one, another the Christian Church dispensation that followed it and which Darby and Irving both believed was about to make way for the last, Messianic age.



Where Darby broke significant new ground was in his development of the Calvinist position that God had not transferred all his favour and promises from the Jews to the Christian Church after ad 70. Darby believed that God’s plans for Jews and Christians had always been utterly different, the message for each group quite distinct. ‘When the address is directed to the Jews there we may look for a plain and direct testimony, because earthly things were the Jews’ proper portion,’ Darby asserted. ‘Where the address is to the Gentiles,’ he continued, ‘there we may look for symbols, because earthly things were not their portion and the system of revelation to them must be symbolical.’ 41 So Jews could safely expect a gloriously rich and powerful kingdom on earth, just as Sir Henry Finch had described, without having to convert to Christianity. But only for a short period, thanks to the rise of an Antichrist who would demand to be worshipped in their new Temple and whose nefarious activities would provoke the Battle of Armageddon, in which most Jews would perish. Faithful Christians, meanwhile, should tread their own, separate path, focusing their hopes on (an everlasting) heavenly glory and, as we shall soon see, neatly avoiding the prophesied ‘Tribulation’ in which the Antichrist would cause Jews, bad Christians and all heathens to suffer untold horrors and misery. Some of Darby’s Plymouth Brethren might have had their doubts about his homespun theology but none in that era of revolutions, toppling kingdoms and corrupted churches would have quibbled with his assertion that the end of the present Church dispensation was close and the time for the fulfilment of God’s earthly promises to the Jews near. Many would also have agreed that dispensations could not overlap or run concurrently; the Church dispensation must end before the new one could begin. It was this self-imposed imperative – the need to determine what would become of faithful, believing Christians once the Church dispensation ended – which led Darby to formulate the doctrine that would be his most enduring legacy, to American Christian Zionism in particular. Darby arrived at the belief that the Church era would be soon and dramatically terminated by ‘The Rapture’ – by Jesus putting in what might be described as an extra half Coming, before his official Second Coming, to suddenly scoop all faithful believers up to heaven, out of harm’s way. (The word ‘Rapture’ comes from the Latin for ‘to catch up’, raptare.) This startling interpretation derived from two lines of St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians – a brief allusion to live believers being ‘caught up ... in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’ 42 – and was far from generally accepted, even by Darby’s Plymouth Brethren. Darby’s insistence on it contributed to a schism in the sect that lasted almost a hundred years.

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If even the millenarian Brethren could not swallow ‘The Rapture’, there was no chance that the established Church of England would. But its appeal to those frightened of death and contemplating the heinous sufferings of the Tribulation – earthquakes, plagues, famines, floods, the evil Antichrist and all-out war – is obvious. It was only natural that such a fervent fan of Irving and Darby as Lady Theodosia should often speak about how ‘our heaven was to be in a cloud, suspended over the New Jerusalem, which was to contain none but Jews’.43 An arrow, marked Rapture, pointing heavenward to Jesus, standing on a cloud suspended above Jerusalem, remains the conventional representation of the Rapture in American pre-millennial dispensationalist charts. The tale of the Rapture’s transference across the Atlantic and its astonishing popularisation since the mid-1990s belongs to the next chapter. Suffice to say for the time being that, popularly imagined by tens of millions of Americans today in terms of vanishing loved ones, crashing cars, half-emptied aeroplanes and homes and offices and churches, belief in the pre-millennial dispensationalist Rapture doctrine is now implanted in mainstream American Christianity. American Christian Zionists are some of its firmest adherents. Edward Irving and John Nelson Darby – the two stars in the narrow firmament of early nineteenth-century British prophecy exegesis, the two men whose ideas about the Jews and the end of human history have had so much influence on contemporary Christian fundamentalism – were energetic, attractive and certainly sincere personalities, but they were also unstable. Only the Puritans’ political enemies ever described them as ‘harebrained’ or ‘vainglorious’ or ‘nice fools’,44 whereas even a fellow student of prophecy and a fellow Restorationist once described Irving as a ‘brainsick enthusiast’,45 and associates of Darby’s judged him autocratic, credulous and gullible.46

If nineteenth-century Restorationism had a respectable English face, it was the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, soon better known as the London Jews’ Society – the organisation Lewis Way had eagerly joined in 1811, after identifying his life’s purpose. A sickly plant to start with in 1809, it gained strength once Church of England stalwarts like Lewis Way began insisting that all sectarian differences be shelved. If Jews were ever to be convinced that Christ was their messiah they must be presented with an attractively united Christian front. The gracious patronage of various members of the nobility, some bishops, and a few aristocrats who believed that the distinctly prophesied



conversion of the Jews was a more urgent and important task than ministering to the heathens of Africa and Asia, lent the society a veneer of respectability. A German Jew, a convert to Christianity named Joseph Frey, quickly proved himself its most valuable asset. Frey was an excellent and energetic public speaker who liked nothing better than travelling up and down the country delivering stirring sermons about the urgent need to love Jews, convert them to Christianity and assist their restoration to Palestine. In 1812 for example, he boosted the society’s coffers to the tune of £4,000 by preaching a total of 279 sermons. The following year he visited sixtyseven different communities in Scotland and, a year later, he was being congratulated for covering a total of 1,900 miles on his tours.47 Between 1813 and 1815 the society made a staggering £31,000, most of which was spent on establishing schools, a small factory, a printing press, a church and workshops at a brand new headquarters set in five acres of London’s Bethnal Green. ‘At a little distance it looks like a country seat,’ said an admiring visitor to Palestine Place in 1814, ‘ – a miracle of God manifested before our eyes.’ 48 Unfortunately, Joseph Frey was also an embarrassingly depreciating asset. Free to roam the country unsupervised, he was also free to gain an unsavoury reputation as a womaniser and as the client of a brothel in Ipswich. Eventually he was persuaded to emigrate to America where, for a time, he continued to preach, philander and make money for the cause and himself. The society’s problems did not end there. A golden opportunity to persuade the Archbishop of Canterbury to take on the role of patron of the society was lost when the mission’s trophy convert, a rebarbative rabbi from Jerusalem, insisted that his own private study of the kabbala had brought him to a faith in Christ – not any effort by the society. Later the rabbi was observed leaving a brothel in Houndsditch and soon reconverted to Judaism. In 1815, the Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father, who had consented to assume the patronage of the society two years earlier, resigned in disgust at the crude and material way in which Jews were being evangelised. By this time its too grandiose schemes for expansion had brought the London Jews’ Society to the brink of bankruptcy, from which Lewis Way’s generous gift rescued it. Even a staunch supporter of the basic project of converting the Jews was accusing the missionaries of ‘practising upon the credulity’ of donors in order to pursue a ‘course of squandering and spoliation’,49 and regretting that so decent a person as Lewis Way had ‘fallen into such hands’.50 The same sad critic also deeply regretted that, thanks in large part to the colourful antics of people like Frey, the mission

‘The English Madness’


to convert the Jews and restore them to their land was making abysmally little headway where it really counted. Between 1809 and 1814 there were around 100 converts, half of them children. Jews were dismissing the entire pious project as ‘the English madness’.51 Rattled by the organisation’s tarnished reputation, the leadership made an important decision. The mission to England’s Jews would be shelved and all operations transferred abroad, where Jews of Europe and the Middle East would be targeted for conversion instead, far from the English public’s mocking gaze. Lewis Way eagerly threw himself into the work of establishing mission stations in Warsaw, the Crimea and Beirut. The polymath Joseph Wolff, mainstay of the Albury conferences, was dispatched to Jerusalem to evangelise the city’s small but stridently religious Jewish community. Wolff’s reports home were not encouraging; Jerusalem’s Jews were ‘prejudiced and unwilling to listen’ to him,52 he discovered, and at least as mockingly disrespectful as Jews in England. An impudent Rabbi Mendel wanted to know why, if Jesus was really the messiah, he hadn’t performed a real miracle by being born of a man instead of a virgin. The London Jews’ Society did retain William Wilberforce’s support, although Restorationism was never a main concern of his and he turned down an invitation to attend the prophetic conferences at Albury Park. But the person chiefly responsible for saving the organisation’s face was Anthony Ashley Cooper, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, the most famous reformer of his time and the ‘Tower of Strength of the Evangelical Party from Land’s End to the Shetland Isles’.53 Shaftesbury would be president of the London Jews’ Society for thirtyseven years, from 1848 until his death in 1885, when a newspaper obituarist paid him a backhanded compliment: ‘If it be necessary to have Puritanism represented in the Peerage Lord Shaftesbury did not spend his public life in vain, for it would not be possible to find a more honest, a more dignified, or a less objectionable representative of that cult’.54 For a while in the course of his long career as a Tory peer, Shaftesbury had been the ‘most unpopular man in the kingdom’.55 A zealous observer of the Sabbath, he’d succeeded in cancelling England’s Sunday postal service, in banning brass bands from parks and in closing all pubs and other places of entertainment on the day of rest. The puritanical brand of Christianity Shaftesbury had early imbibed from a beloved nanny was his mainstay, and his favourite book of the Bible the Old Testament’s Chronicles, because it was ‘full of hope for the restoration of Israel to the Divine favour, and of their gathering to their own land’.56 All his life he wore a signet ring carved with the exhortation ‘O pray for the peace of Jerusalem!’ and the backs of his envelopes –



inscribed with the ancient Greek for ‘Even so, Come, Lord Jesus, come!’ – loudly advertised him as an evangelical, immersed in Bible prophecy, impatient for the Second Coming. ‘Our Lord delayeth His coming; and why?’ he once wrote in a letter. ‘Perhaps He comes not because so few people ask Him to come.’ 57 Shaftesbury’s mother-in-law thought him ‘almost a saint’.58 The admiration of another close friend, however, was not unalloyed: ‘his understanding is so warped by the most violent prejudices, that he appears quite ridiculous whenever he finds an opportunity to vent them’,59 Henry Edward Fox wrote in his diary, wondering if there was not a ‘dash of madness’ in Shaftesbury. For all his magnificent reforming energies, Shaftesbury seems to have been prey to what would be diagnosed today as violent mood swings or, perhaps, bi-polar depression. Inclined to lurch from the ‘wildest and most jovial of spirits’ to longer bouts of ‘cruel despondency’,60 he once nervously enquired of his doting mother-in-law if she’d noticed any tell-tale ‘moroseness, any fanaticism, any superstitious excess’ 61 in him. Presiding over the work of the Lunacy Commission, he was probably wounded when a fellow commissioner recommended confinement for a woman on the simple grounds that she subscribed to the London Jews’ Society. ‘Indeed?’ Shaftesbury remarked politely. ‘And are you aware that I am President of that Society?’ 62 One hopes he never heard Florence Nightingale’s observation, that if he hadn’t devoted so much energy to reforming lunatic asylums he’d surely have been consigned to one himself. Whatever the state of Shaftesbury’s mental health, there was nothing deranged about the way in which he pursued the goal of persuading his stepfather-in-law, Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston, that the time had come for Britain to play her part in the fulfilment of bible prophecy by arranging for the Jews to relocate to Palestine.

The Earl of Shaftesbury’s exalted position in the modern Christian Zionist hall of fame rests on his claim to have been the first Gentile to succeed in marrying a biblical interest in the Jews and their ancient homeland with the colder exigencies of a national foreign policy. Shaftesbury’s style of religious politicking in the cause of the Jews and their homeland is what links Britain’s Arthur J. Balfour and Lloyd George to America’s President Harry Truman, to fundamentalist televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who built the American Religious Right in the 1980s and ’90s, and to such leading lights of Christian Zionism today as Chuck Missler and Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church, in San Antonio, Texas, and Gary Bauer of the American Values organisation.

‘The English Madness’


Much better than Lewis Way, Shaftesbury grasped the uncomfortable truth that a religiously motivated concern for the Jews and their land would only bear fruit if it could be made to coincide with the selfish interests of a single nation. Shaftesbury can take the credit for briefly making ‘the English madness’ of Restorationism part and parcel of England’s answer to the endlessly plaguing Eastern Question. To the delight of the London Jews’ Society, Shaftesbury helped to reinforce its mission in Jerusalem by persuading Lord Palmerston to appoint the first British consul to the city in 1839. The innovation had highly recommended itself to Palmerston as an ideal means of counteracting creeping French and Russian influence in the Ottoman-ruled Holy Land. Because the French were exercising a watchful protectorate over the region’s Catholic inhabitants and the Russians consolidating their position by doing the same for the Eastern Orthodox community, and because there was no indigenous population of Anglicans for him protect, Consul William Young was charged instead – at Shaftesbury’s instigation – with offering his ‘protection to the Jews generally’.63 While this exciting scheme was still nearing fruition, Shaftesbury seized an opportunity to air his Restorationist views in the December 1838 issue of the Quarterly Review. On the pretext of reviewing one of a flood of new travel books about the Middle East, he first called public attention to a growing feeling among Eastern European Jews that the time for the end of their exile was near, and then remarked on the answering ‘new and tender’ 64 interest in the same matter among Christians. Next he mentioned the London Jews’ Society plan to erect an Anglican church in Jerusalem, hailing it as the ideal vehicle for the fulfilment of prophecies relating to the Jews’ conversion. Then, wisely balancing his lofty religious vision with some more mundane arguments, Shaftesbury claimed that the restoration of the Jews to Palestine made perfect economic sense because the land lent itself to the cultivation of cotton, silk, madder and olive oil. In conclusion, he was utterly confident that the mere presence of Consul Young in Jerusalem would offer Europe’s Jews just the guarantee they needed to forsake their busy urban existence in Europe, transplant themselves and their financial capital to an impoverished backwater of the Ottoman Empire, and turn themselves into farmers – ‘once more, the husbandmen of Judea and Galilee’.65 Where seventeenth-century Puritans had viewed the Jews’ conversion as a vital condition of their restoration, and John Nelson Darby believed they could be restored as Jews and remain that way until the Second Coming, Shaftesbury seems to have trusted that – thanks to the London



Jews’ Society and their new Anglican church in Jerusalem – conversion, to evangelical Anglicanism, naturally, would happen after their restoration. If not as sincerely concerned for the welfare of Jews as fellow human beings as Lewis Way had been, Shaftesbury was certainly more interested in them than Darby was. An optimistic post-millennialist rather than a gloomy pre-millennialist, he believed that there was still hope for the world, that guided by God, men such as himself were slowly but surely building the thousand-year kingdom of God on earth, for Jews as well as Gentiles. That did not make him anything like a philo-Semite, however. Like the majority of the British, Shaftesbury opposed the election of British Jews to Parliament, on the simple grounds that England was a Christian country. Britain’s first Jewish MP was returned to Parliament in 1858. In spite of Britain’s ingrained anti-Semitism, Shaftesbury was about to see his own, hitherto minority yearning for the fulfilment of prophecies relating to the Jews become something approaching a majority passion. In 1839 all British minds that mattered were already focused on the Middle East where Britain, along with four other powers, was intervening militarily to prop up the ailing Ottoman Empire as a future bulwark against Russian and French ambitions in the region. When the ‘Damascus Incident’ – a vicious pogrom resulting from a Christian charge of ritual murder against the city’s Jews for the murder of an Italian Catholic friar – erupted, it caused a surge of anti-Catholic feeling in Britain which in turn awakened a determination that something must be done for the Jews who were still being subjected to such shockingly medieval punishments. Queen Victoria was concerned. Britain extended its protectorate of Palestine’s Jews to include all Middle Eastern Jews, even those nominally protected by Russia. All Restorationists were on the alert. On 9 March 1840 The Times published a long memorandum that was probably Shaftesbury’s work. Addressed to the Protestant monarchs of Europe, it alluded to the ‘signs of the times’ indicating the ripeness of the moment for the land of Palestine to revert ‘to the descendants of Abraham’, and proclaiming it the ‘probable line of duty’ of Protestant peoples to arrange that reversion.66 In the summer of that year, Shaftesbury spied yet another opportunity to beat the Restorationist drum. It occurred to him that the five powers involved in the recently successful operation to shore up the Ottoman Empire might be persuaded to improve on his own original offer to any Jews thinking of relocating to Palestine, with a guarantee not just of British but of joint, multinational protection. ‘I will prepare a document,’ Shaftesbury resolved in his diary on 24 July 1840, ‘fortified by all the evidence I can accumulate and, confiding to the wisdom and mercy of the Almighty, lay it before the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.’ 67

‘The English Madness’


A week later, on 1 August, over a quiet, private dinner with Lord Palmerston he outlined his grand plan, carefully avoiding any ‘enthusiastic’ talk of bible prophecy. If the Ottoman Empire was to function as a useful bulwark against Russia then the land ‘between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea’ must be put to work, he suggested. Obviously, no European businessman would want anything to do with the area unless the ‘principles and practices of European civilisation’ were operating there, and who better to import those principles and values than European Jews? In exchange for their long-lost homeland, the Jews would be only too pleased to perform the twin tasks of opening up the region to British trade while securing it from hostile foreign encroachment. A British-sponsored ‘colonisation’ of Palestine such as Shaftesbury envisaged would be no great drain on the exchequer, because the Jews ‘subsist, and cheerfully, on the smallest pittance’ and were famously hard workers. In his opinion they wouldn’t immediately insist on owning the land, but would gratefully consent to rent plots. Shaftesbury imagined that, accustomed as Jews were to persecution, they would meekly suffer despotic Ottoman rule for as long as was necessary.68 To the pious peer’s intense satisfaction, the scheme struck Palmerston’s fancy. Convinced that his powerful kinsman had been ‘chosen by God to be an instrument of good to His ancient people’,69 Shaftesbury was only a little regretful that he had had to plead the case for Restoration ‘politically, financially, commercially’ 70 rather than religiously. But if Lord Palmerston was no evangelical, he was a politician and, as such, careful of Britain’s standing in the world and of his country’s powerful evangelical constituency. Within a week he’d penned a letter to his ambassador in Constantinople, instructing him to suggest to the Sultan that Jews be allowed to settle in Palestine, pressing him to hint that there might be some financial advantage for the Sultan because the influence of the evangelicals in Britain was ‘great, and their connection extensive’.71 Palmerston was at least as aware as his wife of the growing appeal of Restorationism in the wake of the Damascus Incident. Sketching the English political landscape of the time, Lady Palmerston mentioned in a letter the strength of ‘the fanatical and religious elements of society’, whose ‘only longing’ was to ‘restore the Jews’.72 Before the month was out, Shaftesbury’s private success with Palmerston was public knowledge, aired in a leader in The Times. Praising the peer’s plan ‘to plant the Jewish people in the land of their fathers’, the article mentioned that Shaftesbury was already busy canvassing British Jews ‘of station and property’ in order to discover whether they would like to move to Palestine and, if so, when, at whose expense and with what guarantees.73



The piece elicited an answering storm of replies. ‘The newspapers teem with documents about the Jews. Many assail and many defend them,’ Shaftesbury noted in his diary at the end of August. By the end of the year the Scottish Church Assembly was addressing Palmerston in an open letter, pressing him for a ‘more firm and more extensive establishment of British influence in that interesting land’,74 and Shaftesbury was dusting off an old scheme of his – the creation of an Anglican bishopric in Jerusalem. Events moved swiftly. The following winter the freshly consecrated Bishop Michael Solomon Alexander – a German Jewish convert to Christianity, a former rabbi and mainstay of the London Jews’ Society – was steaming towards Palestine with his wife and six children, aboard a British warship named the Devastation to take up his post in Jerusalem. Shaftesbury had to share the credit for the efficient realisation of the scheme with King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, whom Lewis Way had encountered on his tour of Europe some twenty years earlier, when that monarch was only a prince with a penchant for prophecy. Inspired by news of the first Protestant church being erected in Jerusalem, and eager to reunite Protestant Europe while striking a telling blow against Roman Catholicism, Friedrich Wilhelm had dispatched his envoy, Baron De Bunsen, to London to suggest that Prussia share both the cost of the Jerusalem church and a bishop. Two noblemen of precisely the same pious enthusiasms, De Bunsen and Shaftesbury had thrown themselves into the project that had easily captured the imagination of all evangelicals. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury had assured Shaftesbury that the bishopric was ‘deeply rooted in the heart of England’.75 If the young Liberal politician Gladstone had fretted about the ‘dimness of the scheme’,76 and John Henry Newman, a leader of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England, had railed against its transparently political motivation, De Bunsen and Shaftesbury were undeterred. ‘So the beginning is made, please God, for the restoration of Israel ...’ 77 a delighted De Bunsen had noted in his diary on the day Bishop Alexander was appointed. To an ecstatic Shaftesbury, the singing of a Hebrew children’s choir at Bishop Alexander’s consecration had sounded ‘like the song of the redeemed in Heaven’.78 Unfortunately, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem’s consuming zeal for the prophesied conversion of the Jews and his tactless talk of a Jewish Palestine soon clashed with Consul Young’s experience of the city and practical efforts to provide those same Jews with British protection. Thanks to Bishop Alexander, Jerusalem’s Jews were suffering more persecution than ever by Arabs, whether Muslims or Christians. Consul Young, who believed in the eventual restoration of the Jews and had long been a

‘The English Madness’


member of the London Jews’ Society, was moved to pen an exasperated complaint to his superior, the British ambassador in Constantinople: After a residence here of five years, I am induced to come to the conclusion that to attempt to shape a course in order to meet the views of a popular reading of Prophecy it is necessary to cast plain and obvious duties and sound reason overboard. If the student of Prophecy [Bishop Alexander, for example] would regard the actual condition of these countries from a calm and practical point of view, endeavouring to respect the privileges and prejudices of others equally with his own, I think he would feel the desirableness of studying the real position and wants of their present inhabitants before he indulges in speculative theories regarding a super-human view of the future.79 Critics of Christian Zionism today – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – will empathise with the consul’s unease about outsiders imposing rigid and simplistic prophetical templates on an exceedingly complicated and shifting reality. Bishop Alexander’s converts were embarrassingly few. The building of the new church was stopped on the orders of the Ottoman authorities, and Bishop Alexander was working too hard, with too little result. By 1880 the tally of Jewish converts among a population of around 16,000 was a mere 250. The bishop’s death of a heart attack in 1845, at the age of only forty-six, prompted some guilty soul-searching on Shaftesbury’s part. ‘Have we run counter to the will of God? Have we conceived a merely human project and then imagined it to be the will of the Almighty?’ he asked himself. After succumbing to doubts that must occasionally assail any who perceive themselves as God’s agents on earth, he swiftly consoled himself that no, the bishop’s sad demise must surely be ‘a means to a speedier and ampler glory’.80 Shaftesbury was nothing if not persistent. Almost a decade later, with the Crimean War against Russia again posing the old question of how best to dispose of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, he was reheating his old proposal in a letter to the prime minister of the day, passionately arguing that the area comprising modern Syria, Lebanon and Israel was ‘a country without a nation’ crying out to be populated by a ‘nation without a country’. And he continued, ‘Is there such a thing? To be sure there is, the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews!’ 81 A year later he was repeating his bon mot in his diary: ‘the territory must be assigned to someone or other; can it be given to any European potentate?



To any American colony? To any Asiatic sovereign or tribe? ... No, no, no! There is a country without a nation; and God now, in his wisdom and mercy, directs us to a nation without a country. His own once-loved, nay, still-loved people, the sons of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob.’ 82 The English Jewish writer, Israel Zangwill, who is often credited with coining the phrase and making it the Zionist movement’s most effectively emotive slogan, was aware of its originating with Shaftesbury when he wrote that ‘Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country’ in 1901.83 As impatient for progress and change as he was for the Second Coming, Shaftesbury was pre-empting the demise of the Ottoman Empire by some sixty years. Never having set foot in Palestine, he was ignoring the region’s majority of Arab inhabitants, of whose existence he must have been aware via his London Jews’ Society contacts. Perhaps he was not well informed enough to know that Palestinian Arabs were not the same people as the Ottoman Turks. It seems more likely that he simply didn’t regard Arabs as a ‘nation’. But then in what sense could the Jews be described as a ‘nation’? Perhaps in Shaftesbury’s view a people qualified as a ‘nation’ only if they’d spent long enough in Europe to understand the desirability of nationhood. A more plausible explanation seems to be that, almost a hundred years before the establishment of Israel, Shaftesbury was contriving to grant Jews their nationhood by merging the Jewish Old Testament sense of the word ‘nation’ with its contemporary European sense. If the British ambassador to the Porte had not been so deeply uninterested in his 1840 scheme and the Sultan so opposed to it on the grounds that there were enough foreign influences already at work in that corner of his domain – the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Church – Shaftesbury might be credited with engineering the fulfilment of a key Bible prophecy: the restoration of the Jews. But Shaftesbury’s bequest to Christian Zionism is great enough. Almost half a century before Jews started to organise in the cause of their homeland, he’d invented their best slogan and pioneered a distinctively religious yet modern style of politics. Recourse to that same style would tip the balance in favour of the Zionists when it came to pressing their case with Britain and the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. Although it had been almost nineteen hundred years since the Jews were last a majority in Palestine, key British and American politicians would soon find themselves agreeing that the Jews must be ‘restored’ there – and only there. Argentina or East Africa, or anywhere else, would not do.

chapter 4

‘The Americanising Effect’

In early 1866, the journal of the new Church of the Messiah in Maine, New England, announced that its pastor and much of his flock – with all ‘our houses, our agricultural implements, also our mechanical implements and our furniture’ 1 – would shortly be relocating: not to Texas or California, Idaho or Wyoming – but to Palestine. As convinced as British Restorationists that bible prophecies about the End Times were about to come true, 156 members of Pastor George J. Adams’s church were hurrying out to the Holy Land to ‘regenerate’ it for an influx of Jews whose arrival would precipitate the Second Coming of Jesus in no more than ten years’ time, they believed. The enterprise was an urgent one, and doubly appealing to its participants. If a glorious End Times vision had persuaded many to transplant themselves to the Holy Land, others were dazzled by Pastor Adams’s lively description of a Palestine on the brink of an economic miracle. The truth, that Palestine was miserably poor, corruptly misruled by the Turks and dangerous and desolate outside a few main towns, paled into insignificance beside their enthusiasm for the scheme. If they arrived out there soon enough, with all their American know-how and state-of-the-art farm machinery, they could surely beat the Jewish rush. Preparations were well in hand for a September departure. The Nellie Chaplin – a brand new, 567-ton sailing ship with three masts, an enlarged cabin house and galley, and a full seven feet below deck to hold her human cargo and all their worldly goods – was ready. By June the Church of the Messiah’s newsletter was informing all those committed to the regeneration of Palestine that the price of a first-class cabin would be $100, a secondclass one, $65. Each family must reckon on spending a minimum of $225 on a prefabricated wooden house – complete with sash windows, panel doors and a brick chimney – of the sort the state of Maine had made a name for itself supplying to pioneer settlements all over the expanding



United States. Optional extras included ironwork balconies from which to enjoy sea views because the ‘Regenerators’, as they styled themselves, would settle near the eastern Mediterranean port town of Jaffa whose importance, according to Pastor Adams, was about to be enhanced by a railway link to Jerusalem. Everything proceeded according to plan and on schedule. Two church members travelled to Washington to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to forward a request to the Ottoman Sultan via the American ambassador in Constantinople that all customs duties on their giant cargo be waived and permission granted for the purchase of a suitable amount of land in Palestine. Pastor Adams knew the Ottomans had begun to view Christian missionaries and European consuls as sharp weapons that the Christian powers of Europe were prodding into their empire’s soft underbelly, so he avoided any mention of the group’s religious character. ‘Our object is not to go to Palestine as missionaries, or as politicians,’ the petition explained. ‘We are farmers, mechanics, artisans’ motivated by ‘a strong desire to introduce American agriculture with all its modern improvements’.2 The answer, when at last it came, seemed encouraging. The Regenerators’ excitement mounted on learning, first, that Jaffa’s Ottoman governor had agreed to waive all duties and, secondly, that the agent whom Adams had engaged on a brief reconnoitre of the Holy Land a year earlier had already procured them 20 horses, eight cows, 2,000 bushels of seed wheat and 100 bushels of barley. A reporter for one of the local newspapers boosted the group’s confidence higher still by trouncing an army of mockers. Far from being religious fanatics, the Regenerators were ‘entirely matter-of-fact persons’, he wrote, and their scheme ‘entirely feasible’.3 But his was neither the only nor the best-informed view. The eager emigrants never saw a letter from an experienced American missionary in Beirut to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, pronouncing the project ‘insane’. There was every chance, the missionary believed, that ‘with all their self conceit and contempt for the opinions of others’ Pastor Adams’s group would cause an embarrassing diplomatic incident. ‘We see all shapes and shades of millenarian views in this part of the world,’ he concluded irascibly, ‘but this “Down East” Colony to Jaffa quite caps the climax.’ 4 Either Adams ignored or he never received the American consul in Jerusalem’s equally negative letter regarding the enterprise. Instead, he and his flock basked in the praise of another journalist who was excitedly comparing the voyage of the Nellie Chaplin to that of the Mayflower. When she set sail on the morning of 11 August 1866 the Nellie Chaplin’s human load of Regenerators included Pastor Adams and his second wife

‘The Americanising Effect’


Louisa, a useful number of carpenters, craftsmen and farmers, an elderly matriarch whose descendants accounted for almost a third of the party, a doctor who trebled up as a spiritualist and dentist, a piano teacher and her instrument, a sceptical newspaper reporter and an ambitious young man who planned to put a newfangled ‘Maine spring wagon’ to work transporting pilgrims from Jaffa to Jerusalem by road. The six-week voyage passed without mishap but some dreadful news awaited them on arrival in Jaffa. Misreading their petition and taking fright at the idea of 156 heads of American families with all their dependants invading his empire from its Palestinian rear, instead of only 156 individuals, 43 of them women and almost half of them children, Sultan Abdul Mejid I had refused the group permission to settle. The American ambassador to Constantinople had then regrettably failed to forward the information to Adams in time to prevent the Nellie Chaplin’s departure. On receipt of the dire tidings three days after reaching the Holy Land, Pastor Adams concealed the truth from his flock. Everything was perfectly in order, he lied, only temporarily delayed. After all the privations of the sea voyage, the Regenerators had no choice but to trust their leader and set up camp on the beach with nothing but some makeshift tenting to shield them from the sun and broiling heat. ‘The shore was the world’s privy,’ one of them noted unhappily. ‘Anyway, the butchers put their offal there, which also gave off no heavenly smell ...’ 5 A month later, one man was mourning the death of his father and two brothers from Syrian fever. By the end of a second month they had buried eight infants and five adults, and the winter rains were starting. At last a little arable land was obtained through the mediation of Adams’s agent. A prefab church and some houses were erected with a garden each, along four wide streets, and able-bodied men went to work in the fields, only to discover that their state-of-the-art farm machinery was utterly unsuited to local conditions. Deep-ploughing the American way encouraged thistle seed and caused precious soil moisture to evaporate. But that sore trial was soon forgotten because a serious difference of opinion was dividing the struggling colony. The root of the trouble was Pastor Adams. If, in the eyes of his detractors, Adams was proving more overbearing than any John Nelson Darby, in those of his supporters he was at least as irresistibly charismatic as an Edward Irving. Half the Regenerators, including the curious journalist, were complaining in reports home and to the American consul in Jerusalem that their spiritual guide and leader was a dissolute scoundrel whose management style could best be described as ‘the tyranny of a drunken despot’. Disgusted and furious, they begged for help: ‘How can we confide in the head or heart of



one who reels drunk to his pulpit?’ 6 The rest, meanwhile, heaped the blame for what the author Mark Twain later called the ‘complete fiasco’ 7 on Adams’s agent and the incurably sceptical journalist. Doggedly defending the enterprise in which they had invested their money and their souls, they appended their signatures to a version of the truth as they needed to see it: Pastor Adams was the ‘most noble, honest and upright of men’, and the journalist ‘the greatest liar in Palestine’.8 The feud between the two parties waxed so bitter that the consul feared a bloodbath. Telegraphing his superior in Constantinople, he begged him to send a gunboat to impose a peace. Tempers cooled without military intervention but by the end of the spring Adams’s critics were firmly in the ascendant. There had been four more fatalities and some of the Regenerators had already sailed for home. Desperate, all their money spent, the majority had no choice but to humbly throw themselves on the charity of the mockers back in New England. In a published appeal, they begged for the price of their return passages, confessing to feelings of ‘bitter sorrow and humiliation’ at having been ‘duped’ by their mentor, at having ‘blindly followed his advice, believed his word, obeyed his counsel and remained his most ardent supporters in everything’ for so long.9 Twain, who later sailed from Jaffa as far as Egypt with some of the poorest, noted that the appeal had fallen on deaf ears: just one dollar had been donated towards the rescue effort, which suggested to him that ‘practical New England was not sorry to be rid of such visionaries’.10 Only the private charity of two American tourists and the harassed consul in Jerusalem saved the ruined Regenerators. Their basic and early error had been a failure to make sensible enquiries into the background of the person they were trusting with their lives. The theatrical character who had appeared in their quiet eastern seaboard neighbourhood only six years earlier, the powerful preacher who ‘quoted scriptures in such torrents’,11 was a tailor turned hack actor, best known for his spirited interpretation of Shakespeare’s paranoid Richard III. If they could be forgiven for not knowing that this showman had abandoned his consumptive first wife and children in order to take up with the heartily disliked Louisa, his reputation as a heavy drinker should have rung alarm bells. And a little more investigation might have yielded another insight into their pastor’s chameleon past. Born a Methodist, Adams had recently attained, and then suddenly lost, an important position in the Mormon Church of the Latter-day Saints. Adams’s bungled scheme to regenerate the Holy Land for a mass influx of Jews and the Second Coming owed its genesis to a typically Mormon pre-millennialist take on the Bible and to a Mormon belief that, just as

‘The Americanising Effect’


the members of the Church of the Latter-day Saints must build themselves a New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri, so the Jews had to rebuild theirs in Palestine. One important respect in which both Mormonism and the Church of the Messiah differed from most Protestant sects of the early nineteenth century – though not from John Nelson Darby – was in their insistence that the Jews did not need converting to Christianity, either before or after their restoration to Palestine. Pastor Adams had not lied to the Sultan when he told him he was not a missionary; his odd judaising belief that he and his congregation were themselves the remnants of one of the lost tribes of Israel, and so almost Jews, ruled out a campaign of conversion. But theological niceties of this kind were irrelevant in Jaffa in the summer of 1867, when Adams’s lurid American past was repeating itself in an ever more lurid present. With his vision collapsing around him, he was collapsing too – night after night, blind drunk and burbling Shakespearian soliloquies – in Jaffa’s narrow stone alleys. The exasperated American consul in Jerusalem bypassed his superior in Constantinople to write direct to Washington to inform the American Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs – the man who’d originally given his blessing to Adams’s enterprise – that the leader of the American Colony in Jaffa had been discovered lying in the middle of a road, ‘in the most degrading drunkenness’ and, once sober, had returned home, cursing and blinding and challenging his enemies to public fist-fights. The next day, drunk again, Adams had collapsed ‘upon the road, against a telegraph pole’.12 By 1 October 1867 – almost a year to the day after they had landed at Jaffa – only a handful of the 156 Regenerators had chosen to remain rather than return, humbled and destitute, to America. Among them were Rolla Floyd, who would make a proud name for himself as the best tour guide in Palestine, and Adams and his wife, who hung on for a few months before robbing some English tourists of the price of their passage home. Adams had promised the remnants of his flock that he would return with more funds, but it was two years before he was heard of again, in Philadelphia, where he died in 1880 at the age of sixty-nine.

Both Americans and British living in the Holy Land in the mid-nineteenth century believed that the time for the restoration of the Jews was nigh, but their preparations for that prophesied event were different. Where British Restorationists generally concentrated their efforts on converting the Jews to Christianity by theological argument, their American counterparts



usually tackled the practical task of improving the land. How was an Israel ever going to prosper again in the manner so lovingly detailed by the Bible prophets and, for example, Sir Henry Finch, unless the land was made more fruitful? Almost ten years before the Adams colony failed, two other millenarian farming ventures had started and ended in disaster. The first was a small group mostly of women, led by Clorinda Minor, a wife and mother from Philadelphia who declared herself a latter-day Queen Esther whom God had instructed to ‘make ready the land of Israel for the King’s return’.13 Minor’s project soon provoked a diplomatic incident that pitted the American consul in Beirut against his British counterpart in Jerusalem. The second venture, that of the extended Dickson family from Massachusetts, who farmed 12 acres of land near Jaffa, had ended in tragedy in 1858. Local Bedouins attacked the farm, plundered the farmhouse, killed one man and beat up another, before raping two of the women. The writer Herman Melville, who happened to have visited and spoken to the old patriarch of the family and his wife a year earlier, painted a picture of an enterprise already in trouble, of a fond dream colliding with harsh reality. Melville’s conversation with old Dickson speaks tragicomic volumes: H.M.: Have you settled here permanently, Mr Dickson?’ Mr D: Permanently settled on the soil of Zion, Sir (with a kind of dogged emphasis). Mrs D: (as if she dreaded her husband’s getting on his hobby and was pained by it) The walking is a little muddy, ain’t it? H.M. to Mr D: Have you any Jews working with you? Mr D: No, can’t afford to have them. Do my own work, with my son. Besides, the Jews are lazy and don’t like work. H.M.: And do you not think that a hindrance to making farmers of them? Mr D: That’s it. The Gentile farmers must teach them better. The fact is the fullness of times has come. The Gentile Christians must prepare the way. Mrs D: (to me) Sir, is there in America a good deal of talk about Mr Dickson’s efforts here? Mr D: Yes. Do they believe in the restoration of the Jews? H.M.: I really can’t answer that ...14 In the year of the Dickson tragedy a single British farming venture, the responsibility of the formidable wife of the second British consul to Jerusalem, was established but it was fated to generate more scandal. Mrs

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Elizabeth Finn had an impeccable Christian Zionist pedigree: her father, Reverend Alexander McCaul, had joined and become a pillar of the London Jews’ Society on the strength of one of Lewis Way’s Restorationist sermons. A close friend of the Earl of Shaftesbury, McCaul had led the society’s first foreign mission to the Jews of Warsaw, and may even have encouraged Shaftesbury to think that all Eastern European Jews were ready and waiting to relocate to Palestine by 1838. Both his daughter Elizabeth and her husband James spoke fluent Hebrew and Yiddish. But they were a haughty, imperious couple whose pious hopes for the restoration of the Jews were soon sullied by their high-handed treatment and bullying evangelisation of the 650 Jews who laboured in Abraham’s Vineyard, the farm Elizabeth established. In 1863, amidst soaring debts and mounting scandal, James Finn was recalled from Jerusalem, after a stiff reprimand from the Foreign Secretary: ‘I have to desire you to treat the Jews with kindness, and consideration,’ Lord John Russell’s curt letter said. ‘You have nothing to do with their religious tenets.’ 15 A Chicago businessman Horatio Spafford and his wife Anna, who founded a celibate Christian commune in Jerusalem, in 1881, would be content to do nothing very constructive in the Holy Land but dispense a little charity, wait for the Jews to be ‘in-gathered’ and for Jesus to return. For a time this group of ‘Overcomers’, as they were known, repaired to the Mount of Olives with a picnic every afternoon, in the hope of being the first to offer the messiah some refreshment. The Spaffords and their followers did exert themselves on behalf of a few hundred beggarly Yemeni Jews, on the assumption that they must be members of one of the lost tribes of Israel, whose return to Palestine was another sure sign of the End Times, but when a hundred or so millenarian Swedes from Chicago and Sweden joined the commune in 1886, and settled to more useful work – running a dairy and other lucrative businesses – the religious rationale of the community began to dissipate. Horatio Spafford died and his daughter Bertha showed no inclination to remain celibate once she had fallen in love with another second-generation ‘Overcomer’. The hard-working Swedes rebelled against Anna Spafford’s overbearing rule and a child custody case erupted in scandal in 1895, rendering the American Colony of Jerusalem the talk of Chicago. By the 1930s the commune was more of a business conglomerate than a religious community. Today, the Ottoman-era mansion that was the Overcomers’ home is the loveliest five-star hotel in East Jerusalem. The wife of one of the Spaffords’ grandsons, an Englishwoman, is the only surviving vestige of another failed millenarian adventure in the Holy Land. Now in her nineties, Mrs Valentine Vester abhors Christian Zionists. Her twenty-first-



century sympathies are all with the Palestinian Arabs and their right to their homeland. In their different ways, British and Americans did their best to hurry along the fulfilment of prophecy, but with unimpressive results. For all their practical hard work, the handful of American eccentrics who dreamed of making Palestine a land fit for Jews to return to could point to no greater success than the British missionaries with their dream of converting the Jews. But it was Restorationists – British and American – whose efforts mobilised a French Jew, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, to invest in the creation of rural settlements in Palestine and promotion of agriculture among urban Jews in the early 1880s, when the emergency created by the Russian pogroms of that period led to the establishment of the first rural Jewish settlements.

While preaching his pre-millennial dispensationalism on seven long missions to the United States and Canada between 1862 and 1877, John Nelson Darby was disagreeably struck by the Americans’ preference for hard physical – as opposed to hard spiritual – graft. ‘What characterises this continent is looseness as to practice and doctrine,’ grumbled the old leading light of the Powerscourt conferences in a letter from Chicago. ‘Work, not truth is the American line of things, and an activity which leaves the saints and the world all mixed up together.’ 16 What he called ‘the Americanising effect’ 17 consisted of plenty of religion and activity but little real knowledge of Christ. Except in her bold relocation to the Holy Land, the latter-day Queen Esther, Clorinda Minor, was typical of the kind of Americans Darby encountered on an ecclesiastical scene that reminded him of a garden ‘overrun with weeds, some plants set free, all half-smothered’.18 Prior to embarking on her Palestine adventure, Clorinda Minor had been a Millerite, one of up to 50,000 followers of an up-state New York farmer named William Miller who had read the Bible prophecies and decided that Christ must come again between March 1843 and March 1844 or – after that period expired – on 22 October 1844.* Darby had little use for former Millerites whose foolhardy second-guessing of the divine schedule he blamed for queering his own millenarian pitch. Nor would he have admired Clorinda Minor’s reluctance to ponder serious points of * There were 2,000–3,000 Millerites in Britain but the press was hostile and they were often confused with Mormons. A stubborn remnant of American Millerites adapted their expectations and became the Seventh Day Adventists.

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Christian doctrine, such as whether the messiah when he came would be Jesus, or a stranger, as the Jews believed: ‘This is the future,’ was how Minor deflected such questions; ‘let us labour in patient love and zeal in the good work of preparation.’ 19 Many of today’s Christian Zionists adopt the same practical ‘wait and see’ stance, joking with their Israeli friends about being sure to ask the messiah when he arrives whether it is his first visit to Jerusalem, or has he been before. Rigorous pedant that he was, Darby would have abhorred both Clorinda Minor’s and today’s Christian Zionists’ ‘looseness as to doctrine’. Touring the continent, travelling by ‘wagons and cars’ through Illinois, or ninetysix hours non-stop by train to San Francisco, the going was always tough and the immediate rewards very meagre. ‘Much of the states are a difficult field,’ he concluded dolefully, ‘people come out to get on – own land, in a word, the world.’ 20 Americans, he was discovering, would not leave their denominations to become Plymouth Brethren. At best, they were treating his spiritual bill of fare as a smorgasbord, picking at whatever they fancied and leaving the rest. But there was precious little time for the kind of hard spiritual labour Darby demanded. The country was expanding by leaps and bounds. Small wonder the Regenerators hurried out to Palestine; they were used to a hectic pace of growth that saw Texas join the Union in 1845, Iowa in 1846, Wisconsin two years later and California two years after that. The population was exploding too, the Protestant majority being overwhelmed by a flood of Catholic immigrants from Ireland and southern Europe by the mid-1860s. And, if there were only 4,000 Jews in America in 1820, there were 50,000 thirty years later.21 Britain experienced nothing comparable to the speed and degree of this change in the midnineteenth century. The end of the eighteenth century was at least as tumultuous a period for Americans as the Napoleonic era was for the British. Independence provoked an unprecedented surge of post-millennialist optimism. More than ever the new Israel it had been for the Puritan pioneers almost two hundred years earlier, America was about to show the entire world the way to the Kingdom of God on earth. ‘We are raised even above the people of Israel in their best days,’ a proud New England pastor declared in a sermon he delivered in 1799: ‘ – they lived in the twilight of the gospel, we live in its noon-day splendour.’ 22 Lauding the new American constitution as ‘impartial and magnanimous’, the pastor extolled his homeland as a veritable paradise, especially when compared to Christian Europe, then ‘in danger of being whelmed in infidelity’ and ‘tottering with revolutionary convulsions’.23 ‘Our government is not a theocracy, like that of the Jews,’ he concluded a touch regretfully, in the light of



the new constitution’s banning of an established church, ‘but it is the wisest and happiest government now in the world.’ 24 In 1791 the First Amendment of the American Constitution declared ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...’ Another pastor, of a church in Albany, claimed to have found a mention of America in bible prophecy at last. A ‘land of overshadowing wings which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia’ 25 could only refer to the land of the bald-headed eagle, he declared. Where Roman and Persian eagles had a ‘hostile’ look about them, the baldheaded American bird was ‘without one unfriendly feature’, generously extending her wings to shelter the ‘persecuted of all the nations of the earth’– including the Jews.26 In 1819 the future President John Quincy Adams wrote to thank an American Jew named Mordecai Manuel Noah for a copy of his new travel book. Regretting that Noah had not reached the Ottoman Levant on his voyage, he fantasised about a pre-emptive Jewish strike against the Ottoman Empire. He could picture Mr Noah ‘at the head of a 100,000 Israelites’, he wrote, ‘marching them into Judea and making conquest of that country and restoring your nation to the dominion of it’. There was a chance, Adams believed, that repatriated Jews might become Unitarian Christians because ‘your Jehovah is our Jehovah’ and it occurred to him that ‘once restored to an independent government and no longer persecuted’ some of the ‘asperities and peculiarities’ of the Jewish character might even disappear.27 Like the English, the Americans were greeting the new century with a burst of evangelical activity; charitable societies, new churches and religious movements were sprouting in their hundreds. By 1820 America had its own Jews’ Society, the American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews. The early nemesis of the London Jews’ Society, the banished philanderer Joseph Frey, set up forty-one branches of the organisation all over the country. In a six-month tour of the south he travelled 2,365 miles, preached 196 times, collected $4,600, established five affiliates, and gained multiple enthusiastic plaudits from female admirers. ‘I feel most deeply and tenderly concerned for the descendants of Abraham,’ wrote one of them in 1823. ‘Too long have I slumbered – Oh, that God would honour me so highly, as to make me an instrument of spiritual good to them.’ 28 Frey must have been gratified to learn from a Virginian admirer that ‘No other society has ever been formed within my knowledge in this section of the country with so much interest as this.’ 29 In 1844, the year of the Millerites’ ‘Great Disappointment’ and twenty years before the Regenerators’ adventure, a George Bush, an illustrious

‘The Americanising Effect’


forebear of the eponymous American presidents, a Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literatures at New York University, published an influential work on bible prophecy. Entitled Valley of Vision, or the Dry Bones of Israel Revived: An Attempted Proof of the Restoration and Conversion of the Jews, it forcefully and presciently argued the case for a literal, man-made rather than miraculous restoration of God’s Chosen People to Palestine. ‘Motives will be furnished for such a return, appealing it may be to the worldly and selfish principles of the Jewish mind,’ Bush conjectured. ‘The affairs of the nation or the progress of civilisation may take such a turn as to offer to the Jews the same carnal inducements to remove to Syria, as now promote them to emigrate to this country.’ 30 But, although Americans like Bush might look with favour on the Jews’ restoration to their homeland there should be no mistake: Americans, not Jews, were the light to enlighten the modern world. Herman Melville scoffed at poor old Mr Dickson’s having been ‘inoculated with this preposterous Jew mania’ 31 because he believed ‘Americans are the peculiar, chosen people – the Israel of our time’.32 It was generally assumed that disasters like the Millerites’ ‘Great Disappointment’ and the fiasco of the Regenerators must be teaching all those susceptible to excesses of religious enthusiasm a good, harsh lesson. In 1868, in a work entitled A Natural History of Enthusiasm a New England clergyman opined that ‘no species of enthusiasm has carried its victims nearer to the brink of insanity’ than the struggle by ‘men of exorbitant imaginations and feeble judgment’ 33 to interpret bible prophecy. He was striking at the very root of an ill that had afflicted Protestantism since the Reformation in England. It was the problem Elizabeth I, the early Stuarts and even Cromwell had all had to contend with: the havoc wreaked by a certain kind of person’s handling of the Bible’s more explosive contents. Isaac Taylor argued that since no Protestants must ever be forbidden access to the Word of God in the way that Roman Catholics had been, interpreters of prophecy must at least rein themselves in. Instead of whipping up ‘enthusiastic excitements’ by dogmatically naming dates and places – in the manner of a Miller or an Adams, for example – they should pursue their investigations with a ‘modesty and resignation’ based on a ‘not unreasonable supposition that all such researches may be fruitless’.34 But he was failing to comprehend the incomparable thrill, the power hit, that people like Miller, Adams, and Darby too, derived from telling the future by bible prophecy. And he was failing to acknowledge the simple fact that, without a monolithic and established national church to impose a degree of discipline and restraint, the American religious scene would always be at least the overgrown garden that Darby saw, if not a



treacherous jungle. Unregulated, crowded and marvellously varied, it was a place in which anyone – ordained, or licensed, or not – was free to preach his own version of the Word of God, one in which charismatic men with clearly communicable ideas – no matter how wildly eccentric or inflammatory – were guaranteed a chance to prosper. Much of American religion had to be a wonderfully entertaining shock and awe operation, a Molotov cocktail of fear and hope, horror and glee, or many of its propagators could not make a living. The activities of a man like Chuck Missler and the competing extravaganzas of healing and preaching that crowd the schedules of America’s Christian television networks today with their blunt appeals for donations are ample proof that little has changed in this respect. While increasingly wary of setting precise dates for Rapture or Christ’s Second Coming, many of today’s leading Christian Zionists are as boldly entertaining and dogmatic as ever in their yoking of prophecy to current events, as certain as ever that the End Times are thrillingly nigh, as deaf as ever to any moderating counsels. A number of other factors were combining to ensure that Darby’s half-repellent, half-attractive message, about a sinful world careening towards a series of End Times catastrophes which only the faithful would escape by means of the Rapture, was heard above the optimistic postmillennialist music. Sky-high hopes born of independence from Britain were not, after all, being fulfilled in the prompt arrival of a Golden Age. Post-millennialism with its vaguely bright long-term vista might have suited the era immediately following the War of Independence, but the Civil War, waves of immigration and deepening economic hardship of the mid-nineteenth century all strengthened the allure of pre-millennialism; too mired in pain and corruption to fix, the world must soon be destroyed and made anew. Two dramatic developments exacerbated feelings of distress. The first was Darwin’s theory of evolution which, overturning the Bible story of the creation of the world and of Man, planted a bomb under the idea of what it meant to be a bible-believing Christian. The second was German Higher Criticism; after comparing the bible stories with those of other religions and other societies, the theology departments of German universities had arrived at a pair of shattering conclusions. First, the Bible could no longer be regarded as unique since the creation story occurred in Babylonian myths while the theme of Moses’s ten commandments was discernible in ancient German sagas as well as in Aztec codices. Secondly, the Bible was not historically accurate. Leading American as well as British theologians accepted the findings of their German counterparts and began withdrawing into abstruse

‘The Americanising Effect’


complexities where not everyone either wanted to, or could, follow them. Those they left behind were alarmed and outraged that the Bible as the inerrant word of God, the sturdy, intellectually respectable mainstay of Protestant Christianity for the best part of three hundred years, was under attack: not by Roman Catholicism or Judaism, but by forces inside the Protestant fold. Who knew where such attacks might end, they asked themselves. Would these theologians soon be claiming that Jesus had never lived and died and risen again? Would they dare to suggest another, brand new, route to salvation? That way lay perdition and atheism, said those Christian conservatives; that way lay what their spiritual descendants today, American fundamentalists, regularly and bitterly revile as ‘liberal secular relativist humanism’. The first tiny seeds of a conservative religious movement that would be known as fundamentalism by the 1920s germinated in this climate of anxious anti-intellectualism. A stubborn defence of the old verities, and a preoccupation with the part the Jews and their land must play in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth, would be two of early American fundamentalism’s salient characteristics. In the course of the twentieth century the battle lines would become more clearly drawn between two opposing Christian camps. The first, and more liberal one, increasingly viewed the Bible in the context of history; the second, the conservative fundamentalist one, viewed not just history but the future, too, in the context of the Bible.

In the 1870s John Nelson Darby was inclined to blame his disappointing harvest of American souls on the Millerites’ foolish date-setting or on the Americans’ general lack of spirituality. He never admitted that his own personality was probably his biggest handicap. Darby was not a mass-communicator; he hated large gatherings and frowned on emotional excess. But large gatherings and emotional excess were the special hallmarks of both America’s great evangelical revivals – in the 1740s and again from the 1790s to 1810. In the same way as pop bands now tour a country or the world, playing to sports stadiums and parks crammed with their fans, so the great revivalist preachers of nineteenth-century America provided the mass entertainment of their time, touring the United States, battling the evils of breakneck urbanisation by exhorting, terrifying, comforting and reviving whole towns at a time, in fields and parks and churches and homes. When it came to the wider dissemination and firm implantation of pre-millennial dispensationalist theology, Darby’s impenetrable writings, whose style was ‘half



ludicrous, half disgusting’,35 according to one of his Plymouth Brethren, were of little use. But more effective American communicators, among them James H. Brookes, Dwight L. Moody and Cyrus I. Scofield, would advance his cause. James H. Brookes was the pastor of Walnut Street Church in St Louis, Missouri, a frontier town Darby visited five times and where he met with some success. There is no record of a meeting, but it seems highly probable that they encountered each other because Darby preached from Brookes’s pulpit. Brookes was a Presbyterian pre-millennialist who described himself as a ‘lonely man’ because so ‘many of my dear brethren cannot see this precious truth, which shines like the noonday from the Word of God, and which is a veritable key to unlock the meaning of the Scriptures’.36 Assuming that Darby was responsible for embellishing Brookes’s premillennialism with his own dispensationalism, the process might have begun during one of Darby’s earliest visits to St Louis because, by 1870, Brookes had published a popular work named Maranatha (Aramaic: ‘the Lord cometh’.) Presenting readers with a diagram of the End Times schedule as he saw it – something like a design for a Heath Robinson contraption, with arrows and dotted lines and circles 37 – Maranatha preached Darby’s Rapture. It also advanced two hardily perennial Christian Zionist themes. First, while the ‘vast American Republic’ was not mentioned in prophecy, nor ‘the Powers of Europe, except to announce their doom’, Israel was ‘constantly before the mind of Jehovah’.38 Secondly, Brookes verified the old blessing and cursing verse from Genesis by reminding his readers that all ancient empires that ‘meddled’ with, or cursed, the Jews – Egypt, Persia, Rome, Assyria, Babylon – had ‘collapsed’. America’s leading Christian Zionist, Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, has recently expanded Brookes’s list of empires punished for cursing Jews, to include the Russian, the Nazi and the British empires. Calling the Jews ‘a wonderful people’, Brookes went on to reconfigure a then popular anti-Semitic sentiment. The Jews’ tightening control over Europe’s press, universities, royal councils and banks was, in his view, best understood as a sign that they were ‘quietly and unconsciously forecasting their greatness’,39 preparing to jettison Judaism and acknowledge Jesus as their messiah. Clear and bold, Maranatha ran into ten editions after 1874 and was also published in Britain. Brookes broadcast his opinions more widely by editing a prophecy journal called The Truth and convening two week-long summer bible conferences at Niagara, on Lake Ontario. Less narrowly focused on prophecy than the Albury Park and Powerscourt conferences, these bible camps, where people

‘The Americanising Effect’


took notes on the proceedings, prayed and sang hymns, provided conservative Christians of any Protestant denomination with a forum in which to affirm their enduring belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and defend it from attack by those contaminated by Darwinism and the German Higher Criticism. At these earnest gatherings, in a spot ‘overlooking the lake Ontario and the river Niagara ... surrounded by green trees ... secluded from the noise of the world’,40 American fundamentalism began to sprout and produce an intellectual framework to oppose that of the liberal theologians with their fancy new theories. Pre-millennial dispensationalist fundamentalism was clear, consistent and reassuringly coherent. Pre-millennial dispensationalists soon dominated the Niagara conferences but James H. Brookes was a bridge-builder, not a fanatic. Concerned not to alienate other Protestant Christians, he was more tolerant of the smorgasbord approach than Darby. For pre-millennial dispensationalists like him, with a particular interest in decoding prophecy, there was a First Bible and Prophetic Conference in a New York church in the autumn of 1878, at which a reporter for the Christian Observer felt like Alice in Wonderland, ‘stumbling around in an unfamiliar landscape’, astonished at what he was hearing and ‘often quite cross’.41 The Jews, on whose restoration to Palestine the entire unfolding of the End Times depended, were naturally a central theme of the event. ‘Here they stand today, as distinct as ever, occupying no country of their own, scattered through all countries, identical in their immemorial physiognomy, Earth’s men of destiny,’ 42 rhapsodised one of the speakers. The New York conference was the first of six; the last would take place long after Brookes’s death, in 1918, in a mood of exultant expectation. A year earlier Britain had issued the Balfour Declaration, indicating her willingness to ‘view with favour’ the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and General Edmund Allenby had led the British capture of Jerusalem. The influence of mainly English Christian Zionists on those two crucial steps towards the fulfilment of an End Times prophecy is the story of the next chapter. Brookes excelled in his spheres but it was a friend of his, the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century, a New England farm boy turned Chicago shoe salesman, named Dwight L. Moody, who spread Darby’s message beyond books and pulpits and conferences. Moody had enjoyed ‘moulding’ his customers’ wills ‘to buy more and costlier shoes’,43 but soon nourished an ambition to be moulding souls. No intellectual, despite his claim that he would rather part with his ‘entire library, excepting my Bible’ 44 than with the works of one of Darby’s most faithful interpreters (C. H. Mackintosh), Moody did not just reject the new German Higher



Criticism that was sending its exponents ‘up in a balloon, whizzing away above the heads of the people’;45 he stripped Darby’s message down to its urgent basics. In the words of one of his biographers, pre-millennial dispensationalism in Moody’s hands became simply ‘another weapon of evangelism’.46 With the ‘wrecked vessel’ of the world growing ‘darker and darker’ and people taking to the lifeboat he was offering them, there was no time to lose. The race was on to save as many souls as possible before the moment when God came in judgment to ‘burn up this world’.47 Mass evangelism was all that counted: ‘Why polish the brass on a sinking ship?’ 48 was Moody’s challenge to post-millennialists still struggling to build the Kingdom of God on earth. ‘Crazy Moody’, as he was known in the Chicago of his youth, went hectically about his SOS business. He smashed the whisky jugs of alcoholics, chased potential child converts through the streets, held services in saloon bars, and harangued crowds of passers-by from the steps of the town hall. His uncle described the twenty-three-year-old evangelist as ‘crazy as a March hare’ on account of his driving into his yard one cold morning, his face ‘as red as red flannel’, shouting ‘“Good morning, Uncle Zebulon, what are you going to do for Christ today?”’ 49 before hurrying on his way again. But by the age of thirty-six, when he embarked on a three-year revival tour of Britain in 1872, Moody had matured into a preacher the like of whom Britain had not known since the era of the Wesleys or, perhaps, of Edward Irving. Tens of thousands of English, Scots and Irish, of all social classes, sampled and loved his simple and homely preaching style, his energy and warmth, his lack of pomposity and the tear-jerking hymns of his musician partner, Ira Sankey. Moody was no snob; when Queen Victoria’s daughter-in-law, Princess Alexandra, graced one of his meetings, he behaved just as usual, ‘rolling into his chair like a New England farmer’.50 The aged Earl of Shaftesbury pronounced himself ‘deeply impressed’ by Moody, the more so ‘because of the imperfection of the whole thing’. Moody’s voice was ‘bad and ill-managed’, he thought, his language ‘colloquial’ and his anecdotes unsuitably humorous, and yet the overall result was ‘striking, effective, touching and leading to much thought’. Seeing Moody perform instant rebirths in the Holy Spirit, Shaftesbury marvelled at God’s ability to make use of such ‘feeble materials’.51 There is no record of them meeting to discuss the restoration of the Jews. No doubt Shaftesbury, not to mention Darby, who dismissed Moody as ‘the active man in Chicago’ 52 and his tour of Britain as ‘very shallow work’,53 would have judged Moody’s views on the subject as lacking in profundity. In a sermon about God’s promise to Abraham to make his people a great

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nation,54 Moody asked, ‘... hasn’t that prophecy been fulfilled? Hasn’t God made that a great and mighty nation? Where is there any nation that has ever produced such men as have come from the seed of Abraham? ... When I meet a Jew I can’t help having a profound respect for them for they are God’s people.’ 55 On his return home, no one in Chicago called him ‘Crazy Moody’ any more. A dazzling but fleeting phenomenon in Britain, he went on to become a national hero in his own country, and a model for all fundamentalist pastors. Shortly before his visit to Boston, the poet Walt Whitman denounced him as an ‘ignorant charlatan’ and a ‘mistaken enthusiast’,56 but 6,000 Bostonians turned out to hear the great ‘Dr. Evangelical’ speak. In Philadelphia he addressed 12,000 in a freight depot and in New York’s Great Roman Hippodrome on Madison Avenue he reached out to save 60,000 a day. Moody died in 1899, after a last ‘crusade’ to Kansas. But a decade before his death he had founded Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. A stronghold of pre-millennial dispensationalism, it would proudly call itself the ‘West Point of Fundamentalism’ and was soon turning out premillennial dispensationalist evangelists, missionaries, RE teachers and pastors of evangelical churches on an industrial scale. Moody wanted practical and active ‘gap-men’ to bridge the widening gulf between intellectual ordained ministers and the mass of busy, working people. Out went the Hebrew and Greek studies pursued at America’s top theological colleges; in came practical crash courses in spreading the fundamentalist world-view. The institute’s most famous method of teaching the Bible rejected minute analysis of the text and its different authors, as well as examination of its historical context, in favour of ‘synthetic study’, which involved reading each book of the Bible, straight through, at one sitting, over and over again. After two years students were expected to be Word-perfect. The religious historian Timothy P. Weber has recently located the key to the spread of pre-millennial dispensationalism’s success in its adherents’ circus-trick-like ability ‘to “out-Bible” everybody else in sight’ 57 – like my fellow tourist Marty, on Chuck Missler’s Holy Land tour. By the late 1920s, when ‘fundamentalism’ had been recognised as a movement, the institute’s complex of thirty-four buildings in downtown Chicago boasted 2,000 students and a staff of 40, presided over after Moody’s death by a succession of able pre-millennial dispensationalists. A mission to the Jews had been added to the choice of courses on offer. The institute’s radio transmitter broadcast reports about trips to the Holy Land in Yiddish, to encourage Jews to restore themselves to British Mandate Palestine. In pride of place in the main hallway was a thoroughly modern,



electrically illuminated, map of the Holy Land. Sober-minded, efficient and respectable, Moody’s Bible Institute, and others like it, were instrumental in ensuring that the hardy plant of pre-millennial dispensationalism was never relegated to a wilderness outside the overgrown garden of American religion. It was Cyrus I. Scofield, the third and probably the greatest populariser of Darby’s ideas via what became known as the Scofield Reference Bible, who ensured that pre-millennial dispensationalism spread so deep and wide that it could never be uprooted. An unscrupulous Missouri businessman, lawyer and local politician, Scofield first saw the pre-millennial dispensationalist light in Darby’s works, which he read while serving a six-month sentence for forgery in the jail in St Louis. A friend and protégé of the city’s pastor James H. Brookes, Scofield’s transformation from a hard-drinking, philandering swindler who had deserted a wife and two daughters, to born-again Christian and pious activist in Moody’s crusade to Missouri in 1879, seems to have been engineered by Brookes, whom he eulogised as his ‘first teacher in the oracles of God’. Uneducated, except in the law he had practised until he fell foul of it, Scofield adapted his old advocacy skills – the clear and persuasive speaking style he had honed for handling juries – to the pulpit. Only a year after a local newspaper had described him as ‘late lawyer, politician and shyster generally’,58 he was headed south to Texas, to take up a position at a Baptist church in Dallas. There he remarried and set about building a wider reputation as a speaker and writer, opening missions, directing a Bible school and running a fundamentalist Christian correspondence course. After teaching Dwight L. Moody the gist of pre-millennial dispensationalism, Scofield took charge of Moody’s home church in Massachusetts and its annual bible conferences, while remaining a leading light of Brookes’s Niagara prophecy conferences. A collection of his talks on prophecy in Prophecy Made Plain, liberally sprinkled with exclamation marks, rhetorical questions and punchy epigrams, offers some clear insights into Scofield’s mind. Tapping into the thrilling sensation of secrecy and privilege that surrounded the work of decoding prophecy, he presented it as the very best means of drawing closer to God: ‘Friendship is an intimate relation, you see, and involves confidences,’ he explained; ‘when God gives a prophecy he takes us into a wonderful personal intimacy.’ 59 He went on, like Moody, to relieve believers of any tedious duty to improve the lot of their fellow man; with the time of Rapture drawing near, the only job of a Christian was to get out into the world and save 800 million souls, Jews included.

‘The Americanising Effect’


In a chapter entitled ‘The Jew, the Miracle of History’, he declared the continued existence of God’s first chosen people in the world a sure proof of the truth of Christianity, before ramming home their contemporary relevance as a terrifying breed of Nietzschean super-men: ‘The Jew was never more virile, aggressive and capable, nor ever stronger in the affairs of the world than he is today. He is the very forefront of a civilisation so relentlessly material that it crushes beneath its chariot wheels everything that is weak,’ 60 he wrote. And again, during the Tribulation – the period that must succeed the Rapture and precede the Second Coming – modern Jews who had recognised Jesus as their messiah would make ideal evangelists: ‘The Jew is everywhere now; the Jew knows every language now; the Jew is acclimated [sic] in every country now; the Jew knows the habits of every people now, and not only is he the ablest, most sagacious man in the world, but the Jew has the money to do it with.’ 61 Scofield did not pretend to know the time of their restoration to Palestine but he could tell his readers why the messiah would be Jesus and not the stranger that religious Jews were expecting. Using the sort of chop logic that must have served him well in the courtroom, he set out to prove that Jesus was the Jews’ messiah: prophecy demanded that the messiah be born of the line of King David, as Jesus had been, and since the ‘genealogical registers’ were no longer available for a Jew to prove his lineage, the messiah could not possibly ‘appear for the first time now’. It was simple, he concluded: either ‘the whole Messianic prophecy falls to the ground or the Messiah has already appeared’ – as Jesus.62 Scofield was sixty-six when, in 1909, he crowned his life’s many achievements with the first impressively and meticulously annotated and cross-referenced pre-millennial dispensationalist version of the King James Bible. Careless to the point of pettily criminal when it came to academic integrity, Scofield had not only shamelessly plagiarised Darby’s work but had boosted his own credentials by awarding himself the title ‘Doctor’. Almost three hundred years earlier, Theodore Beza’s Geneva Bible had angered King James I by offering its readers a surreptitiously Calvinist slant on the Word of God by means of a ‘large exposition of the phrases and hard places’ and an emphasis on the literal meaning of the word ‘Israel’. Now the Scofield Reference Bible was offering its readers a rigidly Darbyite slant, with an identical emphasis on the literal meaning of ‘Israel’, plus a lucid laying out of the seven dispensations of human history and a new stress on an area ‘hitherto closed to the average reader by fanciful and allegorical schemes of interpretations’ – prophecy.63 As was the case with Beza’s Geneva Bible, the Scofield Bible’s handy notes on the same page as the text to which they referred meant that the



word of Scofield and the Word of God easily merged into one supremely authoritative whole. An American theologian who recalls being born again with the help of a Baptist who knew Scofield’s annotations as well as he knew the Bible, has noted that within living memory ‘many a pastor has lost all influence for no other reason than failure to concur with all the footnotes of Dr Scofield’.64 For the first half of the twentieth century the Scofield Reference Bible was the fundamentalists’ Bible par excellence, the single most influential fundamentalist text. By 1937 it had sold over three million copies, and by the 1950s an estimated half of all evangelical groups were using it.65 Revised in 1967, it is still in print, though the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is the version of the Bible most favoured by American evangelicals today. Helped by Brookes, Moody and Scofield, by the first decade of the twentieth century Darby’s pre-millennial dispensationalism had evolved into an alternative intellectual blunderbuss with which conservative American fundamentalists could combat the threatening complexities of mainstream liberal theology. It was a sufficiently sophisticated weapon of argument, a competing ideology. The genial Brookes had worked hard at maintaining respectful contact with other conservative evangelicals. Moody had raised its profile and the emotional temperature by insisting on the nearness of the End Times and establishing his Bible Institute. Scofield had hammered home the central theme – the crucial importance of the Jews’ return to Palestine for any Christian who wanted to be sure of qualifying for the Rapture.

For those who had chosen to view history in its biblical context rather than the Bible in its historical context, the future was not a closed book but a bible opened at the prophetic utterances of Isaiah and Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel and the author of Revelation. And there would be times when such people tried to hurry that pre-scripted history along. Lewis Way, the Earl of Shaftesbury and Pastor George J. Adams were good examples of the type. Late nineteenth-century America produced another in the shape of William E. Blackstone or, as he preferred to think of himself, ‘God’s little errand boy’.66 A respected Chicago businessman who’d made a fortune in real estate after the Civil War, a ‘tall, fine intellectual man, with sideburns’,67 immense energy and a boundless confidence in the imminent fulfilment of bible prophecy, Blackstone was also an autodidact like Scofield, a friend and admirer of Dwight L. Moody, an acquaintance of James H. Brookes and a regular at the Niagara Bible conferences. It was Brookes who one day

‘The Americanising Effect’


deflected the little errand boy’s request that he write a book about Jesus’s Second Coming for easy distribution on trains and in other public places, with a suggestion that Blackstone write it himself. The result, in 1878, was Jesus is Coming. A work as clear and user-friendly as Brookes’s own Maranatha, with a similar Heath Robinson-style diagram of the dispensations, complete with Rapture and Tribulation, Jesus is Coming was written in a tone guaranteed to excite a lust for territorial conquest on the Jews’ behalf: ‘The title deed to Palestine is recorded, not in the Mohammedan Seraglio of Jerusalem nor the Seraglio of Constantinople, but in hundreds of millions of Bibles now extant in more than three hundred languages of the earth,’ 68 Blackstone proclaimed, and ‘Like the red thread in the British rigging, it runs through the whole Bible’.69 More importantly, Blackstone provided future generations of Christian Zionists with a rationale for watching affairs in the Middle East as closely as they might the ticking hands of a clock, or a pan coming to the boil. Israel, in the biblical sense of the Jews, rather than their modern state, Blackstone wrote, is ‘God’s sundial. If we want to know our place in the chronology, our position in the march of events, look at Israel ...’ 70 To successive and lengthening editions of the books – the second edition was almost double the length of the first, the third almost three times longer – Blackstone added fresh evidence for his belief that the restoration of the Jews and the End Times were already under way. The completion of the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway line in 1882 and the waning of Ottoman power, for example, were both grist to his prophecy-inspired mill. Jesus is Coming was an even bigger hit than Maranatha in terms of distribution; it would sell over a million copies and be translated into forty-two languages. The Rapture was a vivid reality for Blackstone and its proximity made him behave in ways even Shaftesbury would have recognised as eccentric. While on a tour of the Holy Land with his daughter Flora in 1888, he carefully arranged to store thousands of copies of Jesus is Coming in a cave at Petra, today in Jordan. Blackstone believed that the Jews suffering the seven-year Tribulation under the Antichrist after the Rapture would flee there from neighbouring Palestine and be eternally grateful for some literature to teach them the way to salvation. Twenty years later, caught up in the prophetic over-excitement generated by Britain’s conquest of Palestine in 1917, and expecting to be Raptured at any moment, Blackstone appointed the eminent Supreme Court judge, Louis Brandeis – a friend whose Jewish faith meant he could not be Raptured and would have to suffer the Tribulation – the executor of his estate. All moneys were to be expended on the missionary activities of a prophesied 144,000 Jewish



converts to Christianity who would go forth to preach the Gospel during the Tribulation. Like many Christian Zionists today, Chuck Missler included, Blackstone had no trouble reconciling his urgent philanthropic desire for the restoration of the Chosen People to the land God had given their ancestor Abraham with his firm belief that the correct unfolding of the biblical future eventually entailed a mass culling of those same people: ‘In the whole land, says the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish and one third shall be left alive.’ 71 According to his reading of the divine timetable, the Jews would happily submit to the rule of a probably Jewish Antichrist for the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, until he began persecuting them for refusing to worship him in their new Temple. Instructed by Jesus is Coming, copies of which they would discover in his Petra depot, some Jews would spend the next three and half years opposing the tyrant. The 144,000 rebel/missionaries would be perfectly equipped for the job with their money and their knowledge of foreign lands and languages. But their revolt would inevitably culminate in the Battle of Armageddon, where the vast majority of unconverted Jews would be punished for infidelity. Blackstone proved himself as level-headed and efficient as Shaftesbury when it came to political activism. Like Shaftesbury he saw a political opportunity to advance the cause of Restorationism, seized it and took great care not to betray his millenarian motives. The opportunity presented itself in the form of a fresh wave of pogroms in Russia in the early 1880s. Incited by the Tsar’s secret police who sought to quell popular discontent by scapegoating the Jews, rampaging bands of Cossacks on horseback were torching Jewish villages, mass-slaughtering and raping as they went, all in the name of Christ. Not only Americans, but the British too, were appalled by the medieval virulence of eastern Orthodox anti-Semitism. The by then very aged Shaftesbury addressed a large anti-Russian demonstration at London’s Mansion House. There were others in Manchester, Oxford, Birmingham, Sunderland and Plymouth, and The Times fired off an outraged leader: ‘Are three and a half millions of human beings to perish because they are Jews?’ 72 Humanitarian Christian outrage on behalf of the Jews reached such a pitch that an American poet penned an angry reminder to the Russians of how much they, as Christians, owed the Jews. Who taught you tender Bible tales Of honey lands, of milk and wine Of happy, peaceful Palestine Of Jordan’s holy harvest vales?

‘The Americanising Effect’

Who Who Who Your

gave gave gave Jew!


you the patient Christ? I say your Christian creed? Yea, yea your very god to you Your Jew! Your hated Jew! 73

Feelings were running high but, when it came down to it, neither the Americans nor the British welcomed the waves of Jewish immigrants washing up on their own shores. With 62,000 destitute and mostly Russian Jews pouring into the United States between 1881 and 1884, the case for a Jewish restoration to Palestine seemed to Blackstone to be making itself. Ignoring the fact that most of his Reform * Jewish friends in Chicago firmly opposed his scheme – ‘We say “the country wherein we live is our Palestine, and the city wherein we dwell is our Jerusalem”,’ 74 said Rabbi E. G. Hirsch – Blackstone composed a short Restorationist petition and collected 413 signatures of prominent Americans to append to it. In March 1891 he delivered it to President Benjamin Harrison. President Harrison must have been impressed by a list of supporters that included a judge of the Supreme Court, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the governor of Massachusetts, six mayors, ninety-three editors of newspapers and periodicals, Dwight L. Moody and the businessman, John D. Rockefeller. The combined prestige and influence of those signatories to the ‘Blackstone Memorial’ was a testament to Americans’ rising resistance to Jewish immigration but also to the businesslike style in which Blackstone framed his bold request that America initiate a mass transplantation of Jews to a land ruled by a foreign power. Blackstone’s declamatory writing style – rhetorical questions, such as ‘What shall be done for the Russian Jews?’ and ‘Why not give Palestine back to them again?’ – ideally suited his purpose. He reasoned that since Russia wanted to be rid of her Jews, and Europe lacked room for more peasants, and bringing them all the way to America would be ‘a tremendous expense and require years’, and since the Jews had as much right to a national homeland in the crumbling Ottoman Empire as the liberated Greeks or Serbs or Bulgars, and since wealthy Jews would willingly pay off a part of the Ottoman Empire’s debt in return for a homeland in Palestine, Restoration was the obvious solution. No mention was made of Palestine’s Arab inhabitants, and no account was taken of the fact that

* In 1885 Reform Jews had declared themselves for amalgamation, demanding to be treated as a religious community rather than as a separate ‘nation’.



the Balkan peoples were already majorities in their lands, which meant that – unlike Israel – Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria could never be resented as foreign colonies. Blackstone’s covering letter was an equally lucid enlargement of the same themes. Swiftly disposing of the protests of Reform Jews as those of a tiny minority, he forecast that the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway line, once under internationally sponsored Jewish control and extended via Damascus into the valley of the Euphrates, would become an ‘international highway’ and Jaffa a busy port – just as Pastor Adams had imagined. And, just as Lewis Way had done while canvassing Tsar Alexander I’s support some seventy years earlier, Blackstone issued a flattering invitation to President Harrison to act as a latter-day Cyrus, the Persian king who had facilitated the ancient Israelites’ return to their land after their sixth-century Babylonian exile. In the last line of his letter, he hinted at that old Christian Zionist motivation: by securing a home for the ‘wandering millions of Israel’ the president and all America would surely benefit from the ‘promise of Him who said to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee”, Gen. 12: 3.’ 75 Blackstone’s offers of personal advantage proved no more attractive to President Harrison than the same offer, by Sir Henry Finch to King James I, had done in 1621. For all its illustrious signatories the Memorial was ignored by any American in a position to make its recommendations a reality, in part because of George Washington’s legacy of wariness towards foreign entanglements. But that did not prevent a battle about it raging in the Jewish and Christian press. While mostly favourable, Christian opinion did sound the odd note of caution. A New York Sun editorial identified the ‘proposition to segregate the Jews and shut them up in Palestine’ as ‘a development of antiSemitism rather than an expression of pure philanthropy’.76 Conservative and Orthodox Jews who still believed in the coming of a messiah were cautiously in favour of Blackstone’s scheme, but there was a swell of opposition from Reform Jews who anxiously objected both to being hurled back into a tribal identity based on their faith and to feeling themselves no longer welcome in America. Their arguments ranged from the practical – Palestine would never be able to support such a large number of Jews – to the worldly-wise: ‘It is not at all unlikely that the Jews of Palestine would proceed to expel all non-Israelites and become as exclusive and intolerant as other persecutors ...’ 77 Undaunted, Blackstone was soon sounding off again in the pages of a journal called Our Day. He calculated that there would be room for three million Jews in Palestine – more, if they could populate the ‘ancient scriptural limits of the country’, an area comprising most of the Middle

‘The Americanising Effect’


East. To win his Jewish critics round, he described a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem that would surely act as ‘an irresistible stimulant for a worldwide rally to their fatherland’. He neglected to mention his belief that, after the Antichrist had demanded to be worshipped in it during the Tribulation, that same Temple would be destroyed. Instead, he clinched his plea with an echo of Shaftesbury’s forty-year-old diary entry about ‘a country without a nation’ and a ‘nation without a country’. ‘A land without a people for a people without a land’ 78 was how Blackstone rendered the future Zionist slogan. In the same year as the Blackstone Memorial appeared, a hugely popular lecturer on the Holy Land named John Lawson Stoddard had made the formula current in United States; independently of Shaftesbury it seems, Stoddard had come up with ‘a people without a country’ and ‘a country without a people’.79 In spite of his repellent eschatology, God’s little errand boy has earned an even more exalted position than Shaftesbury in the pantheon of Christian Zionist saints. His Jewish friend, Justice Brandeis, observed that since his Memorial had preceded Theodor Herzl’s Zionist manifesto, Der Judenstaat, by five years, Blackstone was more deserving of the title ‘Father of Zionism’ than Herzl. In 1956, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Blackstone Memorial’s appearance, the eight-year-old state of Israel named a forest after its author.

chapter 5

‘A Great Idea’

The Anglican chaplain to the British embassy in Vienna could scarcely contain his millenarian excitement. Brandishing a copy of a new booklet entitled Der Judenstaat, he hurried round to alert the British ambassador that here, at last, in February 1896, was a Jew – a journalist and playwright named Doctor Theodor Herzl – laying out a practical, reasoned argument for a national homeland for his people. Here was the man the world had been waiting for, the one who could restore his people’s ancient greatness. ‘The fore-ordained time has come!’ 1 he declared. William Hechler had lived for this moment. The son of a southern German Protestant who had espoused Anglicanism and been a London Jews’ Society missionary for twenty years while always wishing he had been a Jew, Hechler fils was another Jew manqué, another pillar of the London Jews’ Society, a Restorationist steeped in bible prophecy. Ordained by the Church of England, but too eccentric an element for that institution to accommodate easily, he’d spent three years in Africa before turning to a well-connected godmother to secure him a post as tutor to the sons of a German grand duke, Friedrich of Baden. The Russian pogroms of the early 1880s had marked as much of a turning point in Hechler’s life as they had in William E. Blackstone’s. Members of the London Bible Society, a missionary organisation in which the Earl of Shaftesbury took an interest, listened politely to Hechler’s exalted Restorationist arguments before charging him with the humbler task of travelling out to the afflicted regions of the Russian Empire to determine the scale and nature of humanitarian aid required by the refugee crisis. In the Ukraine and eastern Romania Hechler was delighted to discover that the hopes of thousands of desperate, homeless Orthodox Jews perfectly matched his own. By 1883 he had fulfilled that commission and was at a loose end again. Although his former employer, Grand Duke Friedrich, lobbied for his

‘A Great Idea’


appointment to the ill-fated Bishop Alexander’s post as Protestant Bishop of Jerusalem, the Church of England was no longer in thrall to its evangelicals and their passion for prophecy. Hechler was deemed too eccentric, perhaps too much in the mould of Edward Irving,* the flamboyant guiding spirit of the Albury Park prophecy conferences, to occupy such a sensitive and prestigious position. Once again his godmother rescued him from a life of penury, by securing him employment as chaplain to the British embassy in Stockholm. By 1885 he was fulfilling the same function in Vienna. The exotically cosmopolitan capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire suited Hechler very well. Its large and cultured Jewish community offered him plenty of congenial company and interest, as well as an excellent vantage point from which to monitor the rise of anti-Semitism in central Europe and to recognise the urgency of solving the Jewish Question. Soon his reputation as a passionate bibliophile – he lived in a large, single room, furnished from floor to ceiling with a thousand different bibles – won him further employment as a lecturer at Vienna University. The combined duties of an embassy chaplain and lecturer left a man who rose at five every morning and often neglected to feed himself plenty of time to pursue his passions: bible prophecy, Jewish affairs and the archaeology of the Bible lands. The timing of Theodor Herzl’s plea for a Jewish nation state tallied perfectly with Hechler’s reckoning of the divine schedule. Instead of following Thomas Brightman’s seventeenth-century lead by choosing ad 360 as his year zero, or Sir Isaac Newton’s by plumping for ad 800, Hechler had fixed upon the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in ad 637 or 638 as the most significant date in world history. He had then consulted the Gospel of St Luke which mentioned the Jews being ‘led captive among all nations’ until the ‘times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’,2 and the Book of Revelation which prophesied that those Gentiles – Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders and Ottoman Turks – would ‘trample over the holy city [Jerusalem] for forty-two months’,3 before that fulfilment, when the Jews would return. Accepting the convention that one human day was always equivalent to one bible year, Hechler multiplied the forty-two months by thirty to arrive at a total of 1,260 biblical days, or the same number of human years. When added to 637 or 638 this made a grand and thrillingly imminent total of 1897 or 1898; one or other year would see the Jews regain their *

Desmond Stewart in Theodor Herzl: Artist and Politician, p. 282, mentions Hechler attending an Irvingite church in London and soliciting the support of an Irvingite bishop friend.



ancestral homeland, he believed. All that had been lacking was an inspiring Jewish leader to set the process in motion and now, just in time, such a person had appeared in the ideal shape of Dr Herzl who, to Hechler’s astonishment, knew nothing whatsoever about bible prophecy. The burden of Der Judenstaat’s argument was that Europe’s Jews were forever a target of persecution in Europe because they lacked a national homeland and not, as Hechler argued, because God had justly punished them for their ancient collective sins but was about to keep his promise to reinstate them. The epitome of a modern Western European Jew, Herzl had written off all religion, including the hope of a Jewish messiah and the fulfilment of God’s territorial promises to Abraham, as nothing but ‘the apparent solution to riddles, the answer to all childish questions’.4 Herzl had no burning attachment either to Jerusalem or to the Restorationists’ dream of a Jewish Palestine. His dream of a Jewish homeland was not restricted to Palestine; Argentina, he thought, might do just as well. But he had no objection to Hechler’s calculations, especially since the chaplain’s biblebased dates for the fulfilment of his dream were so imminent. Time was of the essence, Herzl believed. First the Russian pogroms provoked by Jewish involvement in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II and then the celebrated Dreyfus Affair * in France, a cause célèbre that Herzl had reported for his newspaper, had forced him to the shocking conclusion that Europe – west or east, under enlightened democratic or unenlightened autocratic rule – would never be safe for his people, no matter how much they strove to assimilate. Race rather than religion was at the root of the modern anti-Semitism and there was nothing Jews could do about that. Thirty-four years before Herzl wrote his Der Judenstaat, a German Jewish writer, Moses Hess, had made the same point: ‘Jewish noses cannot be reformed, and the black wavy hair of the Jews will not be changed into blond by conversion or straightened out by constant combing ...’ 5 After their first meeting at the offices of the influential liberal Neue Freie Presse where Herzl worked, Herzl confided to his diary that, although the Anglican chaplain seemed ‘a sympathetic and sensitive man’, he was undeniably an oddball. With the ‘long grey beard of a prophet’,6 Hechler was ‘an incredible figure when looked at with the quizzical eyes of a Viennese journalist’ 7 – but possibly a very useful one. Hechler’s job as embassy chaplain allowed him privileged access to the British ambassador and so to wider diplomatic circles, to people with the power to help Herzl *

In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, the highest-ranking Jewish officer in the French army, was falsely accused of spying for Germany. The case became a cause célèbre, exposing virulent anti-Semitism in a ‘civilised’ Western European society.

‘A Great Idea’


realise his dream. Less than a fortnight later, the Viennese journalist was climbing the stairs to his bizarre admirer’s fourth-floor lodgings in high hopes of gaining more than a lesson in Bible prophecy. Had Herzl already calculated that the price for securing the chaplain’s and other Christian Restorationists’ assistance was his acceptance that the Jewish homeland had to be in Palestine and nowhere else? If he hadn’t yet, he soon would. After listening politely to Hechler’s excited talk of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and poring over maps of the Holy Land which he spread on the floor, Herzl brought the chaplain back down to earth by explaining that if he, Herzl, was to gain the trust of his fellow Jews sufficiently to become their leader and have a hope of realising the dream they shared, he must win the backing of at least one European head of state. Herzl had thought that Britain, long notorious among its European neighbours for its church’s Restorationist leanings and its comparative freedom from anti-Semitism, might furnish him with such a sponsor, but he had now changed his mind. In the light of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s growing stature on the European stage, he thought Germany a more promising place to start. Hechler responded instantly to this challenge with the welcome news that he happened to be acquainted with Kaiser Wilhelm II’s chaplain. He would immediately travel to Berlin to speak to his friend and suggest that he lay Herzl’s scheme before the Kaiser, on one condition: Herzl must undertake to pay all his travel expenses. The clergyman’s abrupt plunge from the visionary to the mercenary put Herzl on his guard. Was Hechler really as well connected as he claimed or ‘merely an impecunious clergyman with a taste for travel’? Herzl could easily imagine how one or other of the chaplain’s Berlin contacts would ‘pat him ironically on the shoulder and say “Hechler, old man, don’t let that Jew stuff your head with nonsense”’.8 Three things finally persuaded him to part with money he could ill afford for Hechler’s trip. First, the chaplain was not as naive as he appeared; he seemed to understand that feverish chatter about bible prophecy would not help their cause, and that he ran the risk of being accused of using Herzl to force the fulfilment of prophecy. Next, Herzl found the sight of Hechler rolling up his great map of Palestine and storing it carefully in a specially enlarged coat pocket oddly reassuring, ‘his most naive and convincing touch’.9 And, when the chaplain settled himself down at a little organ to treat him to a stirring rendition of a Restorationist – now Zionist – song he had written, Herzl could no longer doubt his devotion to the future Jewish state. Hechler was as canny and effective as Shaftesbury or Blackstone when



it came to mobilising his connections. In a letter to his old friend and employer Grand Duke Friedrich he enclosed three copies of Der Judenstaat, one of them with key points already underlined. But this first approach was comparatively easy; the Grand Duke happened to be as interested in Restorationism as Tsar Alexander I had been almost a century earlier, and had amassed a small library of millenarian works. Hechler merely whetted his patron’s appetite for the new book by informing him that it ‘treats of a subject on which I have repeatedly had the honour of speaking to you’,10 before reassuring him that neither he nor Dr Herzl was impiously trying to pre-empt God’s will in the matter of the Restoration. Reminding the Grand Duke of that staple Christian Zionist argument today, that Palestine is the ‘only country in the whole world of which God has Himself said to whom it is to belong’,11 he proceeded to lay out his simple prophetic calculations, with a humble disclaimer: ‘I am not a prophet, or the son of a prophet, but only a humble student of prophecy, watching “the signs of the times” which we are certainly told to do in the Bible.’ 12 He concluded his missive with a last quick suggestion that the Grand Duke forward one of the copies of Der Judenstaat to his nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II. Equipped with a photograph of Herzl to reassure his Berlin contacts that his protégé was a Jew of the respectable, intellectual sort, Hechler set out for Germany. Just as Lewis Way had found himself having to hurtle from St Petersburg to Moscow to catch up with Tsar Alexander I, so Hechler discovered on arriving in the German capital that not only had his chaplain friend left the city, but the Kaiser had departed for the south, to Karlsruhe. Anxiously awaiting word from the chaplain, Herzl was still in two minds about his eccentric ally: on the one hand Hechler had already given him excellent advice, but on the other he was irritatingly inclined to ‘pedantry, undue humility and much pious rolling of the eyes’ and might still prove nothing but a charlatan with a wanderlust. When at last he received a command from him to proceed directly to Karlsruhe, Herzl was still fretting that Hechler might only be ‘building on his own illusions’.13 But Hechler was doing his best for the cause, planning to corner the Kaiser at a formal reception and remind him of a previous encounter at Grand Duke Friedrich’s castle before presenting Herzl. The contact was duly made, but it was unpleasant and far too short to effect the vital introduction. Already briefed by his uncle, Wilhelm II merely teased the clergyman, ‘Hechler, I hear you want to become minister to the Jewish state ... Isn’t Rothschild lurking behind all this?’ 14 before moving on. The unlikely allies in the cause of Zion fared better with Grand Duke Friedrich, who graciously received them in his castle and listened to Herzl

‘A Great Idea’


for two and a half hours with what Herzl described as ‘a peculiar look of peace in his fine, steady eyes’.15 Herzl couched his appeal in political terms calculated to attract, not just the Grand Duke, but all Europe’s crowned heads. The prospect of gaining a homeland could be guaranteed to lure many Jews away from their dangerous preoccupation with socialism, he told him, and they would naturally be importing Europe’s superior civilisation to a ‘plague-ridden, blighted corner of the Orient’.16 The Grand Duke’s response was kind and encouraging, but also cautious. He feared most Jews would interpret the scheme as a concerted anti-Semitic campaign to rid Europe of its Jews, and was anxious that no one should learn of his own interest in the matter, or think him in any way swayed by Hechler’s mystical arguments. In spite of Herzl’s repeated insistence that he needed the backing of a Christian ruler or minister to lend him authority and his plan credibility, the Grand Duke remained firmly of the opinion that no prince or politician would throw their weight behind Herzl unless they were sure most Jews wanted to emigrate to Palestine. On the train journey back to Vienna Hechler entertained Herzl by unfolding his maps of Palestine, lecturing him at length on the vast preordained extent of a modern Jewish state – ‘the northern frontier is to be the mountains facing Cappadocia, the southern, the Suez Canal’ 17 – and suggesting a catchy slogan for the Zionist movement, ‘Palestine as in the time of David and Solomon!’ Although repelled by Hechler’s occasional unthinking lapses into anti-Semitism and suspicious that he planned to convert him, Herzl was beginning to trust him. After all, his connections were proving as good as he claimed, and his advice and ideas were helpful. ‘Unless it turns out later that in one way or another he is a double dealer, I would wish the Jews to show him a full measure of gratitude,’ 18 he wrote in his diary. Jews, especially from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, were flocking to the Zionist cause but Herzl remained as convinced as Shaftesbury and Blackstone had been that a Jewish homeland was unattainable without the endorsement of a great Christian power. Eight months later, when his chances of co-opting the Kaiser looked bleak and he had been rebuffed by the British Foreign Office with a curt ‘Lord Salisbury cannot grant an audience to Dr Herzl’, a discouraged Herzl gratefully singled out Hechler as ‘the most genuine and enthusiastic’ of his supporters.19 Hechler was one of only three Christian Zionists to attend the First Zionist Congress at Basle in 1897. Another was Jean-Henri Dunant, the Swiss founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. For all his millenarian enthusiasm Hechler was proving both more patient and more realistic than Herzl. ‘The great ones of the world have to be



tamed,’ 20 he told him. If the grand dream they shared was not yet inspiring a majority of Jews, they could hardly expect the rulers of Christendom to rally to their flag. Fortified by his Christian faith and privileged insights into the prophesied future, Hechler did his best to comfort Herzl: ‘Let us calmly remember, especially at the most trying and darkest times, that the will of God is accomplished in spite of the foolishness of men.’ 21 Together, they steadily pursued Herzl’s chosen strategy; Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was sent a Russian edition of Der Judenstaat via his German father-inlaw, as was the Grand Duke of Hesse, who was another of Hechler’s old acquaintances. The Tsar’s uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir, who took a great interest in the Holy Land, was approached, and so was the eccentric but enlightened King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and, eventually, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Pope Pius X, but all to no avail. Herzl’s doubts about Hechler tended to resurface when he was forced to see him as others saw him. Shortly before a second meeting with Grand Duke Friedrich at his castle on an island in Lake Constance in the autumn of 1898, he was mortified to hear a court official accuse Hechler of having falsely predicted the end of the world back in the mid-1870s. ‘I held it very much against you,’ the man remembered. ‘And you see the world hasn’t come to an end yet.’ 22 Herzl confided to his diary: ‘Hechler is fine for the entrée, but afterwards one becomes a bit ridiculous because of him’.23 The embassy chaplain seems to have been a pre-millennial dispensationalist in the style of Scofield or Blackstone; his reading of the Bible made him inclined to believe that a Jewish restoration to Palestine would bring not instant peace and prosperity for the Jews, but the Tribulation. A letter he sent to a Jerusalem missionary in the autumn of 1898 suggests that he was as disinclined as John Nelson Darby to seek the Jews’ conversion to Christianity before their return to Palestine and that he viewed bible time in dispensational divisions. Given the establishment of a handful of Jewish farming settlements, he also seems to have favoured the more practical American approach to assisting the Jews’ Restoration, that pioneered by Clorinda Minor, the ill-fated Dicksons and Pastor Adams’s Regenerators: You look to the conversion of the Jews, but the times are changing rapidly, and it is important for us to look further and higher. We are now entering, thanks to the Zionist movement, into Israel’s messianic age. Thus, it is not a matter these days of opening all the doors of your churches to the Jew, but rather of opening the gates to their homeland and of sustaining them in their work of clearing the land and irrigating it and bringing water to it ...24

‘A Great Idea’


Grand Duke Friedrich had better news for them at their second meeting. During a frank conversation about Zionism, Kaiser Wilhelm had declared himself intrigued by the subject, especially since he was about to embark on a grand pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He had been particularly interested in Hechler’s archaeological sideline: his mission to prove exponents of the German Higher Criticism wrong by unearthing the ancient Israelites’ Ark of the Covenant and some of Moses’s tablets from their probable burial place at Mount Nebo, in eastern Palestine, today in Jordan. Kaiser Wilhelm had promised the Grand Duke that he would ask his ambassador in Vienna to inform himself both about Hechler’s chances of digging up these priceless holy grails and about the finer points of Zionism. When Herzl arrived at the German embassy in Vienna for his first interview with Ambassador von Eulenburg, he was astonished to find Hechler busily converting one of the embassy’s reception rooms into a Museum of Palestine: ‘Mounting his charts, Hechler started perspiring and finally threw off his coat,’ noted Herzl with embarrassed distaste. ‘He went on working in his shirt sleeves. At last everything was arranged: temple model, plaster casts of ancient relics etc.’ 25 In the course of a short visit to Vienna for the funeral of Empress Elizabeth, Wilhelm would find time to admire the curious exhibition, but not to speak to Herzl. Nevertheless, Zionism’s fortunes seemed to be taking a turn for the better. While Ambassador von Eulenburg doubted the soil of Palestine could sustain a larger population or that the Turks would take kindly to having two million Jews in the region, he was ‘visibly fascinated’ 26 by Herzl’s ideas – especially once he had grasped the fact that in taking up the Zionist cause, Germany would become more influential in the region and, in so doing, irritate Britain. Away at his hunting lodge but on the point of departing for the Holy Land, the Kaiser dashed off a letter to his uncle, Grand Duke Friedrich: ‘A momentary pause in the amorous concerts of my deer gives me a chance to write a few lines to you ...’ 27 On the strength of von Eulenburg’s report, he could declare himself firmly in favour of Zionism. Neither Herzl nor Hechler saw the letter, but their determination was such that even its telltale mix of anti-Semitism and cold calculation would probably not have dismayed them. He would be happy, the Kaiser wrote, to see ‘the energy, creative power and productivity of the tribe of Shem directed to worthier goals than the exploitation of Christians’,28 and he could appreciate the wisdom of placing the Jews in a position of gratitude towards Germany. Promising to raise the topic of Zionism with the Sultan in Constantinople, he suggested that he and Herzl meet for the first time, shortly afterwards, in Palestine.



Herzl managed to intercept him in Constantinople, however, where he ensured that the correct approach was made to the Sultan, before both parties headed on towards Palestine. When the Kaiser arrived at the Palestinian port of Haifa, Herzl and Hechler were there to greet him, along with an impressive gun salute, which Hechler insisted to anyone who would listen was ‘prophetically intended’ for Herzl.29 Sporting a ‘flowing white-veiled hat’, the English chaplain threw himself into the Holy Land experience by blessing Herzl (who had paid his travel expenses in recognition of his ‘staunch soul’) and other assorted Zionists in the name of ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.30 They did find an opportunity to deliver a Zionist memorandum to the Kaiser but his politely vague response ‘just about completely demoralised’ them.31 Wilhelm’s priority was not a homeland for the Jews, of course, but the promotion of German influence in the Ottoman Empire, at Britain’s expense. When the Sultan declared himself unwilling to exacerbate the tensions already produced by a handful of Jewish settlements in Palestine that had taken root without his explicit agreement, Wilhelm did not insist. The Kaiser and Herzl never spoke again. Cast down but undefeated, Herzl and Hechler switched their attentions to the Tsar, and then to Prince Edward, the heir to the British throne, but with similarly poor results. ‘HRH prefers the photographs of young Jewish women to those of old Jewish walls,’ 32 was Herzl’s disgusted impression of the future King Edward VII, after being allowed no nearer than his adjutant’s desk at the fashionable spa of Marienbad. Back in Vienna, Herzl was accused of exploiting his contacts with European royalty. There were rumours that he was either a British or a German spy, or in the pay of Christian missionaries. ‘Our good friend Mr Hechler seems to have been too talkative,’ 33 he complained to Ambassador von Eulenburg. The Zionist dream was receding, but ‘Together we shall return to Jerusalem’, Hechler comforted his discouraged friend. ‘Yes, dear William, and I shall even succeed in appointing you bishop of Jerusalem!’ was Herzl’s, possibly sarcastic, reply. Desperate and exhausted now, Herzl was beginning to contemplate a Jewish homeland outside Palestine, as a temporary refuge for his people. By 1900 he was slowly switching his hopes back to England, wondering if one of two small slices of the Ottoman Empire that were effectively ruled by Britain – Cyprus and Al-Arish on the Sinai peninsula, both of them within striking distance of Palestine – would do. Lord Nathaniel Rothschild, who was sympathetic to Zionism, put him in touch with the Secretary for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, a confirmed anti-Semite

‘A Great Idea’


who had once publicly admitted to despising only one race on earth: the Jews, for being ‘physical cowards’.34 Fortunately for Herzl, Chamberlain proved as primarily concerned with the aggrandisement of Britain abroad as Lord Palmerston had been when approached by Shaftesbury on the matter of a Jewish homeland over half a century earlier. If European colonisers in the shape of the continent’s Jews could be made to serve the Empire by consolidating Britain’s hold on areas that were still officially Ottoman, as well as reversing the tide of Jewish refugees into Britain, he could easily swallow his prejudice. Chamberlain could quite see how a British-ruled Zionist homeland in the region might eventually ‘prove a useful instrument for extending British influence into Palestine proper, when the time came for the inevitable dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire’.35 When both Cyprus and Al-Arish proved impracticable, it was the businesslike Chamberlain who kept contact with the Zionists open by offering Herzl a slice of British East Africa in 1903. Both he and Herzl knew how far short the offer fell of the Zionists’ dream, but reports of a new wave of pogroms on the south-western edge of the Russian Empire, at Kishinev, had convinced Herzl that time was running out, that the Zionists would have to compromise in order to save thousands of Jewish lives. The Zionists’ lawyer in Britain, a young Welshman and aspiring politician named David Lloyd George, drew up a legal charter for a Jewish settlement in Uganda, which the Foreign Office responded to with what the American historian David Fromkin has called ‘the first Balfour Declaration’ 36 – a vaguely phrased, cautious approval for a grant of land and local autonomy subject to overall British control. In this first recognition of the Jews as a nation, Britain had gone far further than any other great power towards realising the Zionists’ dream. Hechler predictably opposed the Uganda plan, as did ‘God’s little errand boy’, William E. Blackstone, who sent Herzl a bible with every mention of ‘Israel’ or ‘Zion’ underlined, and an accompanying letter insisting that the Jewish homeland be in Palestine. Herzl was free to ignore his Christian Zionist supporters but he could not overlook a far weightier force of opposition among Jewish Zionists. At the Zionist Congress of 1903, a mighty grouping of predominantly religious Russian Jews signalled their opposition to an African homeland with shouts of ‘Palestine or Death!’ Some branded Herzl a traitor, while others tore their garments in a display of Jewish mourning. Blackstone and Hechler had proved themselves better attuned to the mass of the movement than the secular Herzl: ‘The religious element is, according to God’s word, to become the inspiring force,’ Hechler had



written approvingly as long ago as 1898, ‘and I think I can see that it is the religious faith in Zionism, which is now already influencing the whole nation of the Jews’.37 Similarly, Christian Zionist support for Israel today is welcomed and appreciated far more by Israel’s religious Jews and rightwing nationalists than by secular and liberal Israelis. The reason was and remains simple: millenarian Christian Zionists and Israeli religious Jews and nationalists share the crucial conviction that God promised Abraham and his descendants dominion over the ancient land of Israel – including today’s occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights – not over a patch of Africa or Argentina, or anywhere else. For all three groups, the question of how many Jews are sacrificed in the process of securing that land is secondary, just as the question of how many Jews would have to be sacrificed in Russian pogroms was a secondary consideration for Hechler, Blackstone and the religious Zionists of 1903. Herzl managed to carry 295 delegates to the Congress with him, but there were 178 votes against and 100 abstentions. The movement split into secular ‘Ugandists’ and religious Zionists, and Herzl was torn in half. After eight years of fruitless hammering on the doors of European palaces in the company of a Christian clergyman who could be as much of a liability as an asset, of trailing around after the crowned heads of Europe in the hope of securing their backing, the Viennese journalist was a sick and sad man. He died in Hechler’s arms, in 1904, at the age of only forty-four. Heart-broken, bewildered by this apparent failure of the bible prophecies he’d devoted the best years of his life to helping to fulfil, Hechler’s misery was compounded when he was prevented from placing a bag of Jerusalem soil on his friend’s coffin. The only sense he could make of the tragedy was that God had taken Herzl ‘because the Jews were not worthy of him’.38 The first Christian Zionist retreated into an impoverished retirement in London, prophesying darkly and correctly about a coming ‘world war’ and worse tribulation for the Jews. Although the Zionists recognised his years of faithful service to the cause with a monthly pension of £10, he wore pages of The Times wrapped around his feet instead of socks and subsisted on a diet of toast and tea, with a pair of candles for light and warmth. When the pro-Zionist travel agency Thomas Cook’s offered him a free cruise to the Middle East, he refused, begging instead for a place to store his thousand bibles. Hechler lived to rejoice in the Balfour Declaration and in General Allenby’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1917, but also to lament the irresolute failure of the British Mandate in Palestine, before dying in 1931 in the public ward of the London Hospital, at the venerable age of eighty-five.

‘A Great Idea’


For all his sympathy with the religious mainspring of turn-of-the-century Zionism, William Hechler would be the last millenarian Christian Zionist to exert any influence on the movement’s halting progress towards its goal. Dr Herzl’s successors would not be forced to rely on the eccentrically eschatological, and so frequently embarrassing, support of either Restorationist Anglican clergymen or pre-millennial dispensationalist Americans for the advancement of their dream. The project was about to be carried forward by another sort of Christian Zionist. Equally biblically inspired but more humanitarian in its motivation than millenarian, this variety of Christian Zionism combined with the same imperative of British imperial aggrandisement that guided Joseph Chamberlain’s decisions. Both these impulses were first colourfully united in the person of Benjamin Disraeli, Britain’s first ethnically Jewish prime minister, the Christian son of a convert from Judaism. Long before he first held prime ministerial office for a short period in 1868, Disraeli was funding his lavish lifestyle by writing popular fiction. In three out of fifteen novels – The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, Coningsby and Tancred – he presented his readers with their first Jewish heroes and opened up a vivid world of international intrigue, exoticism, fantasy and romance, a winning blend that spawned an entire genre of popular works. Tancred (1847), in particular, emphasised the debt Christians owed to Jews by having its pious young hero – Lord Tancred de Montacute – take himself off to Palestine, as Disraeli had done in his youth, to discover the wisdom and history of God’s Chosen People and, in Tancred’s case, inspire a war of Jewish liberation. At a time when many of the Balkan nations were clamouring for their independence from the Ottoman Empire, Disraeli, like Herzl, wanted his people to be recognised as a nation rather than simply as a religious community. ‘All is race’ is Tancred’s most famous line. Within a year of Tancred’s publication Disraeli was hammering home the truth of Christianity’s debt to Judaism during a debate in the House of Commons on allowing Jews to become Members of Parliament. ‘Where is your Christianity if you do not believe in Judaism?’ he challenged the House, reminding his fellow MPs of their daily contemplation of the exploits of the scriptures’ Jewish heroes. Braving a storm of jeers and taunts, he continued, ‘Yes, it is as a Christian that I will not take upon me the awful responsibility of excluding from the Legislature those who are of the religion in the bosom of which my Lord and Saviour was born.’ 39 Disraeli would debate the matter hotly every year for the next decade until, in 1858, a Rothschild was finally permitted to take his seat as a Liberal MP for London, eleven years after his election.



The dandy statesman whom many branded ‘the Jew’ in spite of his Christian faith melted the reserve of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, becoming ‘Dizzy’, later the widowed Queen’s friend and confidant. When Victoria once quizzed him on the precise nature of his religious beliefs, Disraeli wittily advertised his mediating role between the two faiths by calling himself the blank page between the Old and the New Testaments. But he also told her that, in his view, the best proof of the truth of Christianity lay in the miraculous but prophesied survival of the Jews, despite centuries of dispersal and persecution. It’s an anecdote many eminent American Christian Zionists – Pat Robertson, for example 40 – recount fondly today. Disraeli’s efforts to provide the British public with a more sympathetic image of a Jew to set against their anti-Semitic stereotypes were greatly assisted by his dazzling endeavours on behalf of the British Empire. During his second term of office, between 1874 and 1880, he transformed that haphazardly acquired encumbrance into a glamorous and swiftly appreciating asset, a process that required mounting involvement in the Middle East as well as in Asia and Africa. In 1875, assisted by a loan from his banker friend Lionel Rothschild, MP, he pulled off the brilliant coup of buying Britain a majority stake in the Suez Canal, justifying the gigantic £4 million expenditure as vital for the protection of the shipping route to British India. Three years later he returned from the Congress of Berlin with control of the first significant Ottoman possession in his pocket – not Palestine, as had been rumoured, but Cyprus. When Joseph Chamberlain blithely offered Herzl 6,000 square miles of British East Africa for a homeland and Prime Minister David Lloyd George later decided that Britain would have to compensate herself for the mass slaughter of her youth on the Western Front with some new jewels in the Empire’s crown (Palestine, for example), it was Disraeli’s bold, buccaneering legacy they were honouring. The confidence Disraeli generated aroused a similarly enterprising spirit in Laurence Oliphant. A well-connected diplomat and spy who had also spent some time as a shepherd and wagon-driver with an American millenarian sect near New York in the 1860s, Oliphant was emboldened by Disraeli’s revelation of Ottoman weakness at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Why should he not plant a Jewish agricultural colony on a million and a half acres of eastern Palestine, in the valley of the Jordan River, under Turkish sovereignty but with British protection? He believed he could bring Sultan Abdul Hamid II round to the idea by arguing its case from a variety of practical angles: the Ottoman Empire would benefit financially; it would be as well for the Turks to be friendly towards the

‘A Great Idea’


Jews in view of their influence on European and American media and financial institutions; any power should see the advantage of being allied with ‘this wealthy, powerful and cosmopolitan race’.41 The venture could not fail, Oliphant judged, with the common sense of a good businessman, because ‘any amount of money can be raised on it, owing to the belief which people have [that] they would be fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the world’. Camouflaging his own millenarian leanings, he continued, ‘I don’t know why they are so anxious for this latter event, but it makes the commercial speculation easy.’ 42 Anticipating ‘a very good subscription in America’,43 his plan was to take up a worldwide collection of a pound each from seven million Jews. ‘God’s little errand boy’, William E. Blackstone, would follow Oliphant’s lead with his famous Memorial more than a decade later. Oliphant’s vision of bounteous plenty as presented in his prospectus, a book entitled The Land of Gilead, harks all the way back to Sir Henry Finch’s seventeenth-century dreams of a restored Palestine, filled with ‘dainties and iunketting dishes ... fat things and wine, not of the ordinary and common sort, but fat things ...’ 44 Oliphant imagined the valley of the Jordan as ‘an enormous hothouse for the new colony’, producing harvests of ‘palms, indigo, sugar, rice, sorghum, bananas, pineapples, yams’, while at higher altitudes there would be ‘tobacco, maize, oranges and figs’ and, higher still, ‘vines and olives, beans and lentils’.45 From the Dead Sea the colonists would harvest petrol and bitumen and ‘chlorate of potassium’, 200,000 tons of which he estimated were needed by Britain. Although Disraeli, Lord Salisbury and even Edward, Prince of Wales, approved his plan, although even Abdul Hamid II could see some commercial advantage, it came to grief when William Gladstone – a ferocious opponent of the Ottomans with no interest in the Empire – replaced Disraeli as prime minister. The Sultan owed Gladstone no favours. The Russian pogroms of the early 1880s would prove that Oliphant’s feeling for the Jews and their land ran deeper than the merely mercenary. He accompanied William Hechler on his mission to determine the extent of the Jewish refugee crisis and was received enthusiastically by Orthodox Jews who’d heard of his scheme. But a second attempt to coax the Ottomans into permitting the establishment of a Jewish colony failed too; by then, Britain was alienating the Sultan by meddling in Ottoman Egypt. It fell to George Eliot, the greatest English novelist of her day, to advance Disraeli’s campaign to rehabilitate his people in the eyes of the British by writing Daniel Deronda, half of which amounted to an impassioned plea for recognition of the debt Christianity owed to Judaism and for a



homeland for the Jews in ‘a new Judea, poised between East and West – a covenant of reconciliation’.46 Its Jewish story line is a simple one: young Daniel, an upper-class Christian Englishman of impeccable looks and character, meets the ailing Jewish sage Mordecai who has spent the past five years on the watch for a messiah of sufficient ‘youth, beauty, refinement, Jewish birth, noble gravity’ 47 to lead his people home. Not until Daniel’s discovery of his longlost Jewish mother removes the last impediment to his taking on the role does Mordecai die in peace. A final scene of the book has Daniel bravely informing a friend of his true Jewish identity, ignoring her carelessly antiSemitic comments – ‘I hope there is nothing to make you mind. You are just the same as if you were not a Jew’ 48 – and announcing that he is about to set off for the Holy Land: ‘I am going to the East to become better acquainted with the condition of my race in various countries there ... The idea that I am possessed with is that of restoring a political existence to my people, making them a nation again, giving them a national centre, such as the English have, though they too are scattered over the face of the globe. That is a task which presents itself to me as a duty ... I am resolved to devote my life to it.’ 49 Twenty years before Herzl’s Der Judenstaat, fifteen years before Blackstone’s Memorial, Daniel Deronda had argued the Zionist case, infusing it with idealism, romance and humanism, eschewing any hint of millenarian enthusiasm. George Eliot’s Christian Zionism had nothing whatsoever to do with the growing American belief in the Rapture. Pre-millennialism, she once opined with characteristic incisiveness, was ‘simply the transportation of political passions onto a so-called religious platform ... the triumph of “our party”, accomplished by our principal men being “sent for” into the clouds’.50 But the British public was less generous with its praise for Daniel Deronda than it had been with its acclaim for Eliot’s Middlemarch. For many reviewers, the novel’s exotic Jewish story line sat unconvincingly beside a conventional tale of English upper-class society. In her passionately sympathetic treatment of both Mordecai and Daniel some discerned an embarrassingly tasteless enthusiasm. There were complaints that Daniel was ‘a prig’, Mordecai ‘a bore’ and that ‘no rational person’ could care about the Restoration of the Jews.51 Robert Louis Stevenson branded Daniel ‘a melancholy puppy and humbug’ 52 and the Spectator opined, ‘We cannot dismiss Deronda on his journey to the East without feeling

‘A Great Idea’


uncomfortably that he is gone on a wild goose chase.’ 53 People wondered how its author could know so much about the Jews unless she was one, and her prominent nose suggested she might be. Eliot was not surprised by these responses. In a letter to the American writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe, she admitted she’d expected ‘much stronger resistance and even repulsion’.54 Daniel Deronda was a bigger hit on the other side of the Atlantic where, in California, it was adapted for the stage. In the end it was the Jews whom Eliot had set out to persuade of the wisdom of their restoration to Palestine, not her fellow Christians, and in this she succeeded triumphantly. Although some Jews feared she’d painted too idealised a picture of them, the chapter containing Mordecai’s impassioned musings on the Jews’ need to reconstitute themselves as a nation was translated into Hebrew and enthusiastically published in the ghetto of Lvov (then the capital city of Galicia, the easternmost province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Seven years after its publication, the American Jewish poet Emma Lazarus – author of the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty – pointed out that Eliot’s ‘idea’ – Zionism, in effect – ‘has already sunk into the minds of many Jewish enthusiasts, and it germinates with marvellous rapidity’.55 The Encyclopaedia Britannica’s entry on Zionism in 1911 credited Daniel Deronda with having given ‘the national Jewish spirit the strongest stimulation it had experienced since the appearance of Sabbatai Zevi [the Jewish messiah who converted to Islam to save his life] in 1666’.56 How had a Christian Englishwoman who had once dismissed Jewish history as ‘utterly revolting’ and declared that ‘everything specifically Jewish is of low grade’ 57 come to write a proto-Zionist manifesto? Her translations of the writings of the seventeenth-century Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza were what prompted her reappraisal, when she was in her late forties, but holidays spent on the continent touring synagogues with her companion, Henry Lewes, were what turned her into an ardent and disinterested philo-Semite. On a visit to Prague’s medieval Jewish cemetery, they met a ‘lovely dark-eyed Jewish child’ whom they were ‘glad to kiss’.58 Fascinated and moved by an evening service in an Amsterdam synagogue, Eliot ‘fairly cried at witnessing this faint symbolism of a religion of sublime far-off memories’.59 Back in London, an eminent Jewish scholar, Emmanuel Menachem Deutsch, gave her weekly lessons in Hebrew and the Talmud and provided her with a model for the character of Mordecai in Daniel Deronda. Both Deutsch and Lewes, and therefore probably Eliot too, had read the work of two German Jewish writers who had broached the idea of a restored Jewish home in Palestine long before Herzl. Moses Hess’s Rome



and Jerusalem and Zwi Hirsch Kalischer’s Derishat Zion appeared in 1862, fourteen years before Daniel Deronda and almost thirty years before Der Judenstaat. Neither enjoyed much success outside intellectual Jewish circles because they failed to attract Christian admirers with connections as good as Hechler’s would prove. Through her Hebrew tutor, Eliot also encountered an English Restorationist, a Lady Emily Beaufort Smythe, whose interest in the Holy Land derived from her Crusader ancestry. Lady Beaufort Smythe had spent enough time in the region to judge that it could easily sustain a Jewish population. It was she who suggested to Eliot that she paint an attractive enough portrait of a Jewish nationalist to encourage young British Jews to emigrate to Palestine. Between them, Benjamin Disraeli, Laurence Oliphant and George Eliot succeeded in turning ‘the English madness’ of early nineteenth-century Restorationism into a modern British Christian Zionism. Stripped of its headiest millenarian components, it retained two salient features: its old sense of the Jews as a ‘nation’ in the biblical and modern meaning of the word, and its acceptance that a Jewish homeland must be in Palestine. No longer the sole province of eccentric clergymen and the Earl of Shaftesbury, by the time Herzl died in 1904 British Christian Zionism was a generous humanitarian impulse nourished by a yearning for motives more moral than material and by the consciousness of a duty to right the world’s worst injustices. At the zenith of her influence, secure in her imperial wealth and her righteous superpowerdom, Britain could afford to nourish such sentiments.

Although not a religious Jew, the brilliant Russian chemist who replaced Dr Herzl at the head of the struggle for a Jewish homeland in Palestine was never tempted by Joseph Chamberlain’s East Africa solution. For all the slaughter of the Russian pogroms, Dr Chaim Weizmann had early recognised that without its emotional component, without its appeal to the embedded collective memory of centuries of exile from Jerusalem, Zionism was a lost cause. He believed that ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’, the yearning prayer of every diaspora Jew’s Passover meal, was the ideology’s vital engine whereas ‘Next year in Uganda’ bordered on ‘idolatry’.60 Fortunately for Weizmann, he encountered little resistance to this argument in the corridors of British power. Even the hard-headed imperialist Joseph Chamberlain had suspected that his 1903 offer of a choice slice of Africa would not be acceptable, and Arthur J. Balfour, the former Conservative prime minister who would join Lloyd George’s War

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Cabinet a decade later and become the Englishman most associated with the creation of Israel, was easily won over to the cause. In 1906 Balfour had been curious enough about the Zionists’ reasons for rejecting Uganda, a solution he himself had approved, to request a Manchester meeting with Dr Weizmann and to grant him an hour instead of fifteen minutes of his time. Over forty years later, Weizmann recalled that meeting and his attempt to persuade Balfour that Uganda could never be Israel: I felt that I was sweating blood and I tried to find some less ponderous way of expressing myself. Then suddenly I said, ‘Mr Balfour, supposing I were to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?’ He sat up, looked at me, and answered, ‘But Dr Weizmann, we have London.’ ‘That is true,’ I said, ‘But we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.’ He leaned back, continued to stare at me, and said two things which I remember vividly. The first was ‘Are there many Jews who think like you?’ I answered ‘I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves but with whom I could pave the streets of the country I come from.’ To this he said ‘If that is so, you will one day be a force.’ Shortly before I withdrew, Balfour said: ‘It is curious, the Jews I meet are quite different.’ I answered ‘Mr Balfour, you meet the wrong kind of Jews.’ 61 Balfour was soon so ardent a Christian Zionist he failed to understand how the majority of British Jews could resist Zionism’s appeal. The ‘wrong kind of Jews’, of course, were comfortably assimilated British Jews, not recent Russian refugees, poor and struggling, like Weizmann. They could see no advantage to themselves in being recognised as a Jewish nation rather than as people of the Jewish faith and they feared the existence of a Jewish homeland in Palestine would give Europe’s rulers an ideal excuse to withdraw their welcome. Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India and one of three Jews in Herbert Asquith’s pre-war Liberal Cabinet, was the most influential of these assimilated Jewish anti-Zionists. Denouncing Zionism as a ‘mischievous political creed’,62 Montagu argued that to treat Judaism as a nationality, rather than as a religion, was to imply that his sort weren’t one hundred per cent British. He spoke for most Western European Jews at the time; on



the eve of the First World War only about one in a hundred of the world’s Jews had signalled their active support for Zionism.63 The delicate political implications of the question which Montagu had raised never interested Balfour, the son of a devout Scots Presbyterian who’d instilled in him a love of the Bible and a special fondness for reading aloud from the prophet Isaiah. Balfour was interested in the Jews for the same intellectual and moral reasons as George Eliot. He was as painfully aware as she’d been of the Christian debt to the Jews for the concept of monotheism and the person of Jesus Christ – a debt that had been ‘shamefully ill-repaid’ with centuries of persecution.64 Not that he was a philo-Semite; he once admitted to Weizmann that his primary instincts were as anti-Semitic as those of Cosima Wagner, the wife of the famously anti-Semitic German composer. But still, his moral sense of history inclined him to judge that the Jews’ claim to territory they hadn’t dominated, let alone ruled, for two thousand years trumped all others. He once justified this stance by explaining that for the Jews ‘race, religion and country are inter-related as they are inter-related in the case of no other religion and no other country on earth’.65 Dr Weizmann had early developed an uncanny knack of finding the argument most likely to strike a chord with whomever he was talking to about Zionism. He’d soon understood that when that person was English the chord was religious and historical. In his autobiography Trial and Error, he confidently stated that the reason why a surprising number of key British statesmen accepted the idea that a Jewish homeland could only be in Palestine was their lasting fidelity to the British Restorationist tradition with its seventeenth-century origins in bible prophecy. ‘Men like Balfour, Churchill, Lloyd George, were deeply religious and believed in the Bible, to them the return of the Jewish people to Palestine was a reality, so that we Zionists represented to them a great tradition for which they had enormous respect,’ 66 he wrote, before reiterating the point twenty-six pages later: ‘those British statesmen of the old school, I have said, were genuinely religious. They understood as a reality the concept of the return. It appealed to their tradition and their faith.’ 67 Christian Zionist writers have never doubted this was the case; it’s always been obvious to them that God employed the Bible-loving British as an instrument for the working out of his divine will. Weizmann’s claim was echoed by the historian Barbara Tuchman in her book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour (1956), and has recently been reinforced by David Fromkin in his magisterial historical survey of the creation of the modern Middle East, A Peace to End All Peace (1989): ‘Bible prophecy was the first and most enduring of the many

‘A Great Idea’


motives that led Britons to want to restore the Jews to Zion,’ 68 Fromkin claims; not the main nor the most important motive perhaps, but ‘the first and most enduring’. A decade later, in One Palestine, Complete, the Israeli historian, Tom Segev, cited ‘an inclination to perform an act of biblical compassion’,69 as the second of four reasons why the British government championed Zionism in the middle of the First World War. (The three others, in order, were ‘their sense of historic justice ... their vague but deep-seated belief in the great power of world Jewry, ... their hope that they might be rid of them’.) In God, Guns and Israel (2004), Jill Hamilton has highlighted the special role that Nonconformist Christianity played in the personal formation of the politicians whose combined efforts led to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Hamilton points out that seven of the ten men who at one time or another served in Lloyd George’s coalition War Cabinet were bible-believing Nonconformists to whom the Restorationist idea would have been, if not uniformly appealing in its immediate and practical application, at the very least, powerfully familiar.70 A term whose origins lie all the way back in the tumultuous religious free-for-all of the seventeenth century, Nonconformism had assumed many different shapes but always entailed a basically Puritan, literal approach to and reliance on the Bible as the sole source of moral authority. Barred from Oxford and Cambridge, Nonconformists had founded their own academies where the Word of God was studied alone in its glory rather than diluted by the British public school staples – the ancient Greek and Latin classics. Imbued with Puritan precepts regarding sober living and hard work, some Nonconformists had succeeded in raising themselves out of the working classes to the thriving merchant class and on and up to the world of local, then national – usually Liberal – politics by the late nineteenth century. The socialism of the early twentieth-century Labour Party was Liberal Nonconformist Christian rather than Marxian in origin. So was its Christian Zionism. Joseph Chamberlain, the one-time screw-manufacturer and Mayor of Birmingham, the Secretary for the Colonies who had offered Herzl a homeland in Uganda, was a Nonconformist of the Unitarian persuasion. Unitarians’ rejection of the Trinity and the orthodox Christian belief that Jesus was divine placed them closer to Judaism than to other forms of Christianity. The judaising Francis Kett was burnt at the stake for basically Unitarian beliefs in the late sixteenth century. Joseph Priestley, the eighteenth-century millenarian chemist, was another Unitarian and so too was America’s President John Quincy Adams, who fantasised about his Jewish friend leading an army of 100,000 Jews into Ottoman-



ruled Palestine in 1819. Charles Prestwich Scott, the illustrious editor of the Manchester Guardian for fifty-seven years, but also the Englishman who arguably did more than anyone but Balfour and Lloyd George to promote the Zionist project, was yet another Unitarian. ‘With his piercing blue eyes and commanding white beard, he looked like a prophet descending from the mountain to rebuke unrighteousness,’ 71 a contemporary recalled of the elderly newspaper editor whom Dr Weizmann first encountered at a charity function in Manchester back in the autumn of 1914. One of the first Nonconformists to go to Oxford after the ban was lifted in 1854, C. P. Scott had been bullied for skipping daily Church of England services at his college. The grandson of a preacher, he had been destined for the Unitarian ministry as a youth but decided that he couldn’t face a lifetime upholding the beliefs of an embattled minority. ‘The very fact of being in a small minority is so likely to awaken one’s combativeness as to make one perhaps blindly zealous for truths which one felt to be by others unjustly and hastily rejected,’ 72 he explained to his parents. It seems that Scott’s experience as a member of a persecuted minority and his understanding of how it felt to have one’s most deeply held beliefs dismissed, when combined with his acquaintance with Manchester’s lively Jewish community and Weizmann’s charm and skill, were what won him over to the Zionist cause. He discovered in Weizmann a man after his own English puritan Nonconformist heart, describing him as ‘a rare combination of the idealistic and severely practical’.73 Dr Weizmann had struck lucky again, because Scott would prove as influential a supporter as Balfour. A Liberal Member of Parliament for a time, he’d remained in close and friendly contact with his old colleagues, many of whom were also Nonconformists. He made it his business to introduce Weizmann to as many politicians as possible. Within a couple of months of their first encounter, only three months after the outbreak of the First World War, Scott was meeting Weizmann off an early train from Manchester and informing him they would be breakfasting with Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Nonconformist Welsh Baptist. Again on Scott’s suggestion, the Russian Zionist chemist was soon engaged by Lloyd George, who had been redeployed as Minister for Munitions, for the crucial war work of inventing an artificial substitute for acetone. At the time, acetone was a substance that could only be derived from the timber Britain was running short of. Without acetone there could be no explosives, no British guns firing on the Western Front. It was Scott who badgered Lloyd George to recompense Weizmann adequately for this vital service, Scott who bullied the prime minister into doing battle with civil servants who were spitefully obstructing the foreign

‘A Great Idea’


chemist’s efforts to save the Treasury £9 million. ‘What evidently had enraged him [Lloyd George] particularly,’ Scott wrote in his diary, ‘was that they should treat Weizmann, a Jew and a foreigner, in a way they would not venture to treat a man in a different position.’ 74 A Welshman who had never been to university and whose faith meant he was as embattled a member of a despised minority in the eyes of the Church of England ascendancy as Scott was, Lloyd George was at least as sensitive as Scott to English snobbery and the plight of the underdog. With Balfour at the Foreign Office, Lloyd George started out on the short road to promising the Jews a homeland in Palestine almost as soon as he replaced Herbert Asquith as prime minister in December 1916 and switched much of Britain’s war effort from the Western Front to the Balkans and the Middle East, in a bid to knock out Turkey. Asquith would never have committed Britain to sponsoring and defending a Jewish homeland in Palestine; he’d dismissed such a suggestion by a Jewish member of his Cabinet, Herbert Samuel, out of hand. To Asquith, admittedly another Nonconformist, but also a staunch anti-imperialist, Samuel’s report had read ‘almost like a new edition of Tancred brought up to date’. He had observed disapprovingly that it was ‘a curious illustration of Dizzy’s favourite maxim that “race is everything” to find this almost lyrical outburst proceeding from the well-ordered and methodical brain of H.S.’ 75 To Lloyd George, a Nonconformist and a staunch imperialist, the idea of a British protectorate in Palestine appealed as much as it had done to Disraeli. When in March 1917, during discussion about a post-war settlement in the Middle East, he was asked, ‘What about Palestine?’ Lloyd George could answer without hesitation, ‘Oh! We must grab that ...’ 76 It was at C. P. Scott’s instigation that Dr Weizmann managed to have frequent tête-à-têtes with Lloyd George. In late September 1917 the three of them had breakfast together, and ‘after that we went for walk in the park’, Scott noted in his diary. ‘I had asked Weizmann to come in case [Lloyd] George should like to see him and they had a few words downstairs and [Lloyd] George, on Weizmann’s representation of urgency, told [a private secretary] to put down “Palestine” for the next War Cabinet.’ 77 General Allenby’s conquering army was heading towards Palestine at the time. Weizmann wanted to be sure that a secret treaty, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, to carve up the province between France, Russia and Britain, did not take effect. In the Anglophile Weizmann’s view only Britain could transform the vague promise of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine into a Jewish state. Britain alone, not France and Britain or any other grouping of powers, would follow through.



Weizmann’s imaginative understanding of the British historical romance with the Old Testament had worked its magic on Lloyd George too. The Welsh prime minister’s chapel-trained ear thrilled to the sound of the names of ancient Israelite heroes and places. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, he would draw on dim memories of poetic juxtapositions he’d internalised as a child to insist that Britain exercise a protectorate over a Palestine – or ‘Canaan’, as he liked to call it – reaching ‘from Dan to Beersheba’, without even knowing where Dan was. In his memoirs about that conference, he reminded his readers that Canaan was ‘a historic and sacred land, throbbing from Dan to Beersheba with immortal traditions’ and described how the dream of liberating it from the Turks had drawn General Allenby’s soldiers on towards Jerusalem, like ‘a pillar of flame’.78 ‘You must remember,’ he later explained to a Jewish audience eager to learn the genesis of the Balfour Declaration, ‘we had been trained even more in Hebrew history than in the history of our own country. I could tell you all the kings of Israel. But I doubt whether I could have named half a dozen of the kings of England!’ 79 Palestine, he confided to Weizmann long after the Balfour Declaration was signed and General Edmund Allenby had taken Jerusalem, was ‘the one really interesting part of the war’.80

But alongside his basically humanitarian Christian Zionism, other, more shadowy factors inclined Lloyd George towards the fulfilment of the Zionists’ dream in that grim winter of 1916, when the chances of an Allied victory had never looked slimmer. Many of them were predicated on a then widely held belief in the existence of an all-powerful world Jewish conspiracy, a belief encouraged by such best-sellers as John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, published in 1915: ‘The Jew is everywhere ... with an eye like a rattle-snake. He is the man who is ruling the world just now ...’ 81 Added to his atavistic appetite for war booty in the form of an expanded British Empire was Lloyd George’s powerful competitive urge to steal a march on the French in the Middle East. But just as crucially, with his breezy, important talk of ‘our people’ in Russia and the United States, Dr Weizmann had skilfully overstated the power of the Zionists,* feeding and confirming Lloyd George’s suspicion that an international conspiracy * The Zionist movement in America amounted to a mere 12,000 people in 1914. Its centre of operations in London was a single bedroom, its archives in a few boxes kept under the bed.

‘A Great Idea’


of Jews secretly pulled the world’s strings. This overestimation led Lloyd George to the conclusion that giving the Zionists what they wanted was a tactical necessity. As Tom Segev points out in One Palestine, Complete (2000), Lloyd George calculated that by promising the Jews a Britishsponsored homeland in Palestine after the war he could place them in Britain’s debt for ever. Russia’s Jews would surely want to repay the favour by influencing the new Bolshevik regime to stay in the war on the side of the Allies, while America’s Jews might similarly encourage the US war effort; President Wilson had finally entered the war in April 1917. Lloyd George also imagined that when the powerful Zionists living in Germany and Austria-Hungary learned that Britain was offering them Palestine, they would happily undermine their native countries’ morale.82 On 2 November 1917, the time was ripe. Looking hopefully ahead towards eventual victory and a post-war peace by solemnly undertaking to restore the Jews to their ancient homeland, Balfour believed, would boost the spirits of the nation. For Britain to stand for the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land shared by both peoples of the Bible would strike just the right high moral note. With Dr Weizmann’s constant encouragement, with the tide of the war running in Britain’s favour at last because General Edmund Allenby was at that moment marching an army towards Jerusalem to deal a knockout blow to the Kaiser’s Turkish ally, Balfour appended his signature to a letter to the leader of the Anglo-Jewish community: Dear Lord Rothschild, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted, and approved by, the Cabinet. ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’ I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation. The wording of this famous Balfour Declaration – its delicately vague ‘national home’ formula, its careful nod towards safeguarding the rights of Palestine’s Arab natives – suggests that the many who contributed to its composition had more than an inkling of its moral ambiguities. Nothing of the kind had ever been attempted before in the field of foreign relations:



a first party (Britain) was promising to sponsor the imposition of a second party (European Jews) on a third party that had not been consulted in the matter (Palestine’s Arabs). And this at a time when the watchword for the post-war peace America’s President Woodrow Wilson was imagining was ‘self-determination’. Europe’s large empires had collapsed; in Wilson’s view the peoples of that war-torn continent and the Middle East must be allowed to determine their own national arrangements at last. But not in the view of Lloyd George and Balfour and of much of the rest of the Nonconformist Cabinet. For them the Jewish state-building project about to be embarked upon by a population of only 56,000 Jews was always, as Balfour so succinctly put it, of ‘far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs’.83 In the heat of a world war that Britain was in danger of losing in early 1917, the strategic calculations born out of fear of a world Jewish conspiracy were crucial to the issue of the Balfour Declaration, but the Zionists did not need to know that. ‘I have decided to please your group,’ Lloyd George told Dr Weizmann on the day the Declaration was signed, ‘because you stand for a great idea.’ 84

chapter 6

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’

For armies of eager decoders of bible prophecy, the signing of the Balfour Declaration and General Allenby’s conquest of Jerusalem had little to do with righting a historic injustice or with winning the war, but everything to do with Jesus’s Second Coming. At last, in that momentous winter of 1917, millenarian Christian Zionists on both sides of the Atlantic could point to concrete proof of God’s existence and engagement with human affairs – what American evangelicals call today ‘a validating sign’, but of a quality and magnitude not seen since the age of the Apostles. Thomas Brightman, Sir Henry Finch, John Cotton and Increase and Cotton Mather had all viewed the Jews’ survival since ad 70 as some kind of ‘validation’ of their faith, while eagerly expecting their mass conversion and restoration to Palestine as two more, even better ones. In the early nineteenth century Lewis Way, the London Jews’ Society, the Earl of Shaftesbury and hundreds of Church of England vicars had yearned for the restoration. Edward Irving and John Nelson Darby had preached its imminence. James H. Brookes, Dwight L. Moody and Dr Scofield had promised it to millions at their conferences and revivals and in a gigantically popular new annotated version of the Bible. As early as 1878, William E. Blackstone had alerted his readers of Jesus is Coming that if they ever wanted to know ‘our place in the chronology, our position in the march of events’,1 they must keep their eye on developments in the Middle East. The restoration of the Jews, that same vital step along the way to the thousand years of peace and Jesus’s Second Coming, had galvanised William Hechler into action with Dr Herzl. Millenarian excitement had been mounting long before General Allenby reverently dismounted on his entry into Jerusalem in December 1917. As early as 1912 a British Methodist minister had dumbfounded both himself and his audience by forecasting – while in the grip of something



‘like the frantic hallucinations of a fevered brain’ 2 – the outbreak of a European war, the defeat of Germany and the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. The unprecedented scale and destructiveness of the First World War, like the religious upheaval of seventeenth-century Britain and the late eighteenth century’s French Revolution, sent connoisseurs of prophecy everywhere straight to their bibles for adequate explanations, for clues as to what would happen next, for assurances that however terrifyingly out of control the world seemed, God remained at the helm. Six months before the conquest of Jerusalem, in the summer of 1917, a mechanic of the British Royal Flying Corps who attended a Sunday evening service at a London church was struck when the vicar told him, ‘Do you know, I believe Jerusalem is soon going to be delivered, and aeroplanes are going to have a lot to do with it. I’m watching events and reading my Bible side by side with my newspaper.’ 3 The vicar read from Isaiah 31:5, ‘Like birds hovering, so the Lord of Hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it, he will spare and rescue it.’ And so it had seemed to come to pass; new British reconnaissance aeroplanes hovering over the holy city had utterly demoralised its Turkish defenders because most of them had never seen an aeroplane before. Allenby’s entrance into Jerusalem had met with no resistance. Prophecy, the War and the Near East – a British bestseller, in its fourth edition by 1918 – proudly reminded its readers that its clergyman author had been foretelling the liberation of Jerusalem and the restoration of the Jews to their homeland for ‘some years past’ 4 – at least since the book’s first appearance in February 1916 – and now expected that homecoming to ‘be the greatest blessing to mankind’.5 In Jerusalem, the missionaries of the London Jews’ Society – still set on converting Jews to Christianity – were quick to recognise that the Jewish cause had ‘made a great bound forward’.6 No sooner was the city in British hands than they began planning how to persuade Jews that being a Christian was perfectly compatible with being a faithful patriot in a future Jewish state. The boom in bible prophecy gave American pre-millennial dispensationalists – the core of what was shaping up into the fundamentalist movement * – a powerful advantage in the bitter war they were still waging against the Liberals’ German Higher Criticism. Their pre-millennialism was another

* Between 1910 and 1915 two wealthy Californian oilmen – Lyman and Milton Stewart – had funded the production of three million copies of twelve pamphlets called The Fundamentals – a manifesto for conservative Protestant Christians who rejected the Liberals and their German Higher Criticism. Two of the pamphlets treated the question of the Jews and their role in God’s plan. The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago was the hub of the movement.

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


timely boon. Confronted by the weighty evidence that western Christian civilisation itself was expiring on the battlefields of Europe, many conceded that pre-millennialist gloom fitted the facts better than the post-millennial optimism which prevailed in the liberal mainstream churches. Losing ground, the liberals counter-attacked; pre-millennial dispensationalism was ‘dividing the whole Protestant Church of America’,7 one complained. Attempts were made to blacken the new theology’s reputation. One critic charged that the hand of the Kaiser lurked behind its speedy spread; disseminators of its unpatriotic pessimism were German agents, paid $2,000 a week, it was said.8 Such outrageous attacks were the more powerful for containing a grain of truth. It was a fact that most American pre-millennial dispensationalists were not fired by a patriotic hatred of Germany and a yearning to spread the post-millennial creed of freedom and democracy. Their understanding of the Bible told them no good could come of either of those causes in the long term. No matter what efforts were made to forge a lasting world peace, they were all fated to fail and open the way for the rise of the Antichrist, whom Jesus would eventually vanquish at the Battle of Armageddon. Christian Zionists are similarly attacked today for their gleeful pessimism regarding any and every effort to broker a peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But it’s simply a matter of Bible fact for them; there can be no man-made peace. The way they see it, the only peace the Jews will enjoy before Jesus’s Second Coming will be a brief and false one, brought about by the Antichrist, whose rise to power is not scheduled until after the Rapture. For Billy Sunday – the baseball player with the Chicago White Sox turned most successful mass evangelist of the First World War era – God’s prophecies regarding that mighty conflict were not altogether clear, so he refused to take sides, telling his audiences in 1915, ‘Never will I try to re-arrange God’s plan. How do I know that he isn’t using the Allies to punish Germany for the Higher Criticism and heresies? ... How do I know that God isn’t using the Allied fleets storming away at the Muslim fortress of the Dardanelles to drive the Turks out of the Holy Land that Palestine may be restored to the Jews? How do I know that the Almighty isn’t using the Kaiser’s troops ravaging against France as a vengeance upon her licentiousness and immorality? ...’ 9 Sunday didn’t declare for the Allies until President Wilson brought America into the war against Germany in March 1917, at which point he suddenly



announced that the conflict amounted to ‘Germany against America, Hell against Heaven’,10 and no one thereafter could fault his enthusiasm. ‘Jesus, you sure are taking a lot of back-talk from the Kaiser,’ he prayed aloud on one occasion. ‘I wish you would tell America to help wipe Germany off the map!’ 11 Pre-millennial dispensationalists were soon as caught up in patriotic fervour as Sunday. Out-patrioting the liberals, who increasingly disdained the sort of crude jingoism that came with wrapping oneself up in the flag, became a hallmark of American fundamentalism during the First World War and has remained so. Sunday’s bellicose plain speaking is still clearly audible in the Manichaean ‘us or them – heaven or hell – good or evil!’ preaching of Christian Zionists like Chuck Missler, not to mention the speeches of President George W. Bush. The speed and suddenness of the Balfour Declaration and Britain’s conquest of the Holy Land took many Americans by surprise. One leading pre-millennial dispensationalist burst into tears while transmitting the news of the Declaration to his congregation, and wept again a month later, in the privacy of a Chicago hotel room, on hearing of Allenby’s entry into Jerusalem. For the author of the ever-popular Scofield Reference Bible, that conquest was the validation of validations. ‘Now for the first time we have a real prophetic sign,’ 12 wrote Dr Scofield. At this thrilling juncture in human history, when the divine schedule and each day’s news were coinciding as never before, American and British millenarians were seized by a need to discern the next step along the way to the Second Coming. Long before the war had ended, they pooled their interpretations of prophecy to discover how a map of post-war Europe would look. Arno C. Gaebelein, Methodist prophet of 1912 and a pillar of Moody’s Bible Institute in Chicago, and many others, believed that the continent’s new boundaries would have to match those of the Roman Empire again. Why? Because their reading of Daniel 2: 24–45 and 7: 1–28 ordained that it had to be reborn as a new league of ten European nations, and produce the Antichrist of the Tribulation, before Jesus could stage his Second Coming. With this firm premiss agreed, the rest of the puzzle looked simple; Germany’s defeat was a foregone conclusion since no part of that country east of the Rhine had ever belonged to the Roman Empire. Russia would be another loser in the war; her murderous ‘cursing’ of the Jews in the pogroms, let alone the fact that ancient Rome had never extended so far east, was sufficient to seal her fate. France, on the other hand, must regain Alsace-Lorraine and keep Algeria, and Britain relinquish control of Ireland because that country had never experienced

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


Roman rule. Italy would gain Trieste and other northern areas formerly belonging to Austria-Hungary which, in turn, would be divided and lose most of its territories north of the Danube – in effect, about half its old territories. Greece and Egypt would be independent, as they had been in ancient Roman times. Even if there were occasional misfirings – Constantinople did not detach itself from Turkey and join Europe and nor did Portugal unite with Spain, for example – those lacking a detailed grasp of the more banal economic and political factors that rendered such dramatic alterations to the map of Europe imperative after the First World War couldn’t help but marvel. Viewed alongside the most significant alteration of all, the miraculous prospect of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, those bible-based predictions were astonishingly accurate. A mood of triumphant exultation reigned at a flurry of prophecy conferences, as well as at American Christian Zionists’ meetings with Jews after the war. ‘The capture of Jerusalem is more than a prophetic event, it is a pivot in prophecy,’ a former pastor of the American Church in Jerusalem informed a capacity crowd of over 3,000 at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music in May 1918. ‘We have entered on a prophetic era. We are looking upon the things which Moses and the prophets and Christ himself has foretold.’ 13 In Los Angeles the same year, William E. Blackstone told a large Jewish audience of their need to decide their immediate future. As he saw it, they had three options: they could escape the prophesied Tribulation by converting to Christianity without delay, or they could be ‘true’ Zionists, clinging to their hope in the coming of a Jewish messiah and building up their new national home in Palestine or – and he did not recommend this course of action – they could go on ‘enjoying their social, political and commercial advantages’ in a country that was not their own.14 Blackstone didn’t use words like ‘leeches’ or ‘bloodsucking parasites’ to describe Jews who chose the last of these options, but he might as well have done. For millenarian Christian Zionists like Blackstone there were always those whom Dr Weizmann wittily referred to in his 1906 conversation with Balfour as ‘the wrong kind of Jew’ – the ones who balked at tying both their nationality and their faith to the land God had promised Abraham. As for many Christian Zionists today, these are the Jews who will greet the Antichrist with open arms, believe his false promises of peace for a period of three and a half years, and suffer the seven-year Tribulation. These are the two-thirds of the Jewish race who will persist in their rejection of Jesus till the end and pay a terrible price at Armageddon. When many Jews complain that Christian Zionists do not care for Jews as fellow humans but only as puppets in their gory Christian apocalypse



story, this is what they are referring to. How can Christian Zionists be true, reliable friends of Jews and Israel, they wonder, when so many of them are expecting a world conflagration and a rerun of the Holocaust on their territory? But for such Christian Zionists, the double-strength Holocaust to come is not a belief, but a divine guarantee as solidly reliable as God’s promise to restore the Jews to Palestine has proved.

Christian Zionists have frequently exhibited anti-Semitic tendencies. Lewis Way and George Eliot were sincere philo-Semites, but William Hechler’s occasional slip-ups caused Theodor Herzl to fret and fume. Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, General Allenby’s chief of military intelligence in Palestine after the war, was eager to see the Zionists build a strong Jewish state that would be of use to Britain but admitted to being ‘imbued with anti-Semitic feelings’ and even to wishing Zionism did not involve Jews.15 Colonel Josiah C. Wedgwood, MP, was the British Christian Zionist who gave loudest expression to the thinking behind this apparently paradoxical sentiment: Jews when they were behaving like their distant warlike forebears, the proud and conquering ancient Israelites, were just the thing and much to be admired. Jews, on the other hand, who complained and quarrelled and connived, who continued to behave as if they were threatened with pogroms and daily injustice in the shtetls of the western Russian Empire, were a despicable and even repellent nuisance. In Wedgwood’s view this second group was self-evidently the ‘wrong kind of Jew’. The right kind of Jew behaved like a cross between the ancient Israelites and his own seventeenth-century Puritan ancestors. Many British Christian Zionists of the Mandate era closely resembled American Christian Zionists today in their predisposition to see a mightily armed Israel as a reprise of the Old Testament, as a living testimony to Britain’s own righteous supremacy. Wedgwood, the fourth of the famous Nonconformist Staffordshire potting dynasty to bear his name, was a prominent example of the type between the world wars. At Zionist fundraising events on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1920s and ’30s he never tired of reminding rapt audiences that his zeal for Zion rested on his love of the freedoms his warrior ancestors had fought for: ‘When my ancestors hewed down the aristocrats at Wigan Lane and at Naseby, they were armed with the names of Aaron and Abner; and they walked to the charge, calling on the God of Israel in the language of the prophets ...!’ 16 Recounting tales of Zionist Jews asking him why he, as a Christian, should be championing their cause, he followed through with a punch-line that

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


always raised a laugh: ‘I can answer lightly that my Christian name is Josiah, and he was the king of the Jews!’ 17 Wedgwood’s loudly broadcast fidelity was not just to a vision of a homeland for the Jews in a Palestine shared with Arabs, as provided by the Balfour Declaration, but to Palestine as an exclusively Jewish nation state, as discreetly planned by the Zionists. For thirty years, while Britain tried to govern Palestine under first a military authority and then a League of Nations mandate that endorsed the impossibly contradictory terms of the Balfour Declaration, while Zionist Jews struggled to establish their Jewish state, and Palestine’s Arabs fought to retain their land, while Britain began ruing the day Allenby had conquered the Holy Land for Christendom, Wedgwood’s vision never faltered. His dream was of a Jewish Palestine within the British Empire – a ‘seventh dominion’ as autonomous as Australia, Canada or South Africa – but his efforts to bring it about would simultaneously embarrass the Zionists, exasperate the British government, and confirm the Arabs’ worst fears. Whether latter-day Puritans, political visionaries like Wedgwood, or millenarians like William Hechler, Christian Zionists have often embarrassed the people they seek to help. In his refusal to see the merits of any aspect of the Palestinian Arab case, Wedgwood pioneered a narrow and partisan path that adhered steadfastly to his bible-based faith in the Jews’ God-given right to their ancient homeland, and to what he perceived to be ‘Britain’s obligation to interfere on the side of the downtrodden’.18 Generations of Christian Zionists have been treading the same road ever since, failing to acknowledge that the Holy Land is home to more than one downtrodden people. Just like American Christian Zionists today, Wedgwood hurled himself into Palestine’s agony, relishing the thrill of its high moral stakes as well as the grateful respect shown him by the Zionists. He was their most steadfast and uncritical supporter in the British establishment, ‘the best of our friends’,19 as the Zionist leader and later prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, once said. Within months of the signing of the Balfour Declaration, Wedgwood was in the United States, on a Zionist speaking tour, addressing a ‘monster meeting’ of San Franciscan Zionists in a hall festooned with British flags, an occasion so uproariously joyous that ‘Rule Britannia’ got hopelessly mixed up with the Hatikvah and America’s ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’.20 Three days of Arab rioting against the Jews in Jerusalem in the spring of 1920 soon tempered all those giddy Zionist celebrations and alerted Palestine’s British authorities and Whitehall to the sober truth that honouring the mutually exclusive terms of the Balfour Declaration – establishing a Jewish national home while upholding the ‘civil and religious rights’ of the Arabs – would not



be a pious privilege but a costly, enervating chore. No one knew exactly how the trouble had started, how it came about that five Jews died and 216 were wounded in scenes that reminded many of the new Jewish immigrants of the Russian pogroms, but it proved to many Jews that a friend of Wedgwood’s, the prominent Russian Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, was right. Jabotinsky had long argued that the Jews should be prepared to defend themselves. Defying the Mandate administration’s ban on arms, he’d embarked on training a Jewish militia. The riots had found him in possession of three rifles, two pistols and 250 rounds of ammunition, which won him a fifteen-year prison sentence. Wedgwood successfully protested against Jabotinsky’s punishment. Incensed by the Mandate authorities’ incompetent handling of the crisis, by its failure to heed warnings about rising tensions, but most of all by Britain’s refusal to allow the Jews to arm themselves, he lobbied whomever he could reach on the subject. Wedgwood would never sympathise with the British government’s anguished efforts to square the vicious circle they had created with the Balfour Declaration by operating in shades of unhappy grey in Palestine, rather than in the black and white absolutes he saw. Jabotinsky was just the sort of Jew Wedgwood admired, an Israelite Roundhead. In him, Wedgwood discovered a realism and strength of purpose he deemed manly, and vital to the establishment of the Jewish nation state. Like Jabotinsky, who early recognised that the Palestinian Arabs’ objection to the Zionist project was natural in a people facing an invasion of ‘alien settlers’ and inferred from this that a Jewish state could secure itself only if the Zionists erected a defensive ‘iron wall’ that the Arabs would be ‘powerless to break down’,21 Wedgwood favoured force. His convictions required a feisty outspokenness on his part, but brute strength on the part of the Jews. In a speech at a Zionist fund-raiser in Holland in 1923, Wedgwood embarrassed the British government by openly referring to the Jewish ‘state’, rather than a ‘homeland’ being constructed in Palestine. Three years later, in January 1926, he used the opportunity to address vast Zionist gatherings in five American cities to expound ideas more uncompromising even than Jabotinsky’s. Jews were emigrating to their new homeland at the excellent rate of 35,000 a year, he told his audiences, but would not be in a position to set up any democratic institutions until such time as they outnumbered the Arabs. He believed that the wealthiest and most influential of those Arabs would surely emigrate if saddled with a sufficiently punitive property tax. Christian Zionists today who back the radical right-winger Rabbi Benny Elon’s plan for a mass ‘transfer’ of the Palestinians from the West Bank to neighbouring Arab states are true heirs of Josiah Wedgwood.

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


Like Balfour, Wedgwood never recognised that the average Palestinian Arab was as outraged by the Zionists’ presence in his land as any wealthy Arab landowner. Once again, his public assertion that Jews and Arabs would never run Palestine as equals inconvenienced and embarrassed both the British government and Weizmann. And he went further still in promoting the Old Testament position: the Jewish homeland should comprise territory on both sides of the Jordan River – both Israel and Jordan, in today’s terms. In fact, Wedgwood could not see why any limits should be set ‘to a successful colonizing western race’ like the Jews.22 Palestine was just like Massachusetts, he explained to the Zionists of that east coast state. Behind Massachusetts lay the vast American interior, and behind Palestine ‘spread the illimitable land. There is Haran, part of ancient Palestine; there is Irak [sic] crying out for cultivation, the granary of the ancient world.’ 23 Again and again, he hammered home his point that in order for Jews to ensure that ‘once more a light shall shine from Zion’,24 they should ‘Stand up and play the man, O Israel. Turn your Wailing Wall into silicate bricks for your new factories,’ he commanded them. ‘We want more of the Maccabees and less Jeremiah!’ 25 He would revisit the theme – the virile activity of the ancient Israelites in place of the effeminate passivity of the ghetto – for twenty years. Once, he glibly claimed that the Zionists and the British were marvellously compatible because they share a ‘preference for the Old Testament with its doctrine of “hit him first and hit him hard” to the New Testament and pacifism’.26 On another occasion, accused of inciting the Zionists to violence, he retorted proudly, ‘My whole life has been an incitement to violence.’ 27 In the late 1920s Wedgwood made an extended visit to Palestine, to develop his scheme to turn the future Jewish state into an autonomous dominion of the British Empire, and was lionised by the Jabotinsky-ites. Dismissing the Mandate authorities’ claim to be treating both Jews and Arabs impartially, he proclaimed an opinion that not even Jabotinsky dared to voice openly, that the Arabs of Palestine were now Britain’s enemies.28 His frank enthusiasm for a Jewish-ruled Palestine under British protection confirmed mounting suspicions on both sides of the Atlantic that the Balfour Declaration was after all nothing but a fig leaf concealing ugly old British imperialism. But his immodest proposal thrilled Vladimir Jabotinsky and together they lobbied for it at Westminster. Britain, however, was not about to complicate its Palestinian affairs any further by treating with two different Zionist movements, one led by Weizmann, the other by Wedgwood, though in essence by Jabotinsky. A senior official in the Colonial Office voiced the widespread exasperation felt in government



at Wedgwood’s abuse of his status as an MP by suggesting, ‘I do not know whether it would be possible to drop a hint to Colonel Wedgwood that he should refrain in future from making himself a channel for the transmission of Mr Jabotinsky’s views to the Colonial Office. It certainly puts us in an embarrassing position.’ 29 Another and more serious outbreak of Arab–Jewish rioting in August 1929 raised ill feeling against the Mandate authorities to such a pitch that Wedgwood’s vision of a seventh dominion of the British Empire soon lost what little lustre it had had. Undeterred, he continued lobbying on the Zionists’ behalf. While Britain miserably struggled to dampen the fires of the wholesale Arab Revolt against the Zionists and Britain in 1936–7, Wedgwood’s passion for a Jewish state placed him in an ever-shrinking minority of his fellow countrymen. By then, the one Englishman in Palestine whose love of Zion matched Wedgwood’s – a young British military intelligence officer named Orde Wingate – was a glaring anomaly. A descendant of missionaries and soldiers, raised a Nonconformist member of the Plymouth Brethren, Wingate had arrived in Palestine in the middle of the Arab Revolt, fluent in Arabic and experienced in Arab affairs, but was almost instantaneously converted to Zionism. Asked what he knew of its doctrines, he masked his ignorance with a bold boast: ‘There is only one important book on the subject, the Bible, and I have read it thoroughly. This is the cause of your survival,’ he told Jews. ‘I count it as my privilege to help you fight your battle. To that purpose I want to devote my life.’ 30 Like Wedgwood, Wingate envisaged a Jewish state dependent on the British Empire, and he was as adamant as Wedgwood that the Jews be armed. For three years – until 1939, when his superiors decided he was too partisan and insubordinate, and reassigned him to Ethiopia – Wingate devoted himself to training what would become the core of Israel’s army today, the Haganah. Soon he was spying for the Zionists and leading ‘Special Night Squads’ in pre-emptive raids on Arab villages or on missions to deliver scandalously brutal reprisals. Back in London, Balfour’s fervently Christian Zionist niece, Blanche ‘Baffy’ Dugdale, applauded his activities at first: ‘Lucky for us that Wingate’s fanatical Zionism gets the better of his sense of duty as Intelligence Officer,’ she noted in her diary, ‘he is clearly one of the instruments of God’s hand.’ 31 On closer acquaintance she would be forced to amend her opinion – he was ‘a most ungovernable character’,32 ‘an irresponsible lunatic’.33 As determined as Wedgwood to fashion ancient warrior Israelites out of modern European Jews, Wingate was treating his Jewish subordinates with

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


a casual cruelty that would have earned him a prison sentence in Britain. But they didn’t hate him for it. Instead, touched by his knowledge of the Bible and Hebrew and desperate to secure the survival of their new homeland by any means, fair and foul, they tolerated his methods, his discipline and his manner of relaxing between missions – sitting naked eating raw onions, reading his bible or his Hebrew dictionary, scratching himself and brushing his pubic hair with something resembling a large toothbrush. They honoured him with the Hebrew title hayedid, our friend. Some Zionist leaders were less impressed. Baffy Dugdale was not alone in her serious reservations about Wingate. Moshe Sharrett, a close associate of Wingate’s and later Israel’s second prime minister, found his Zionism ‘overpowering’.34 Moshe Dayan, a member of his elite force, and later Israel’s famous eye-patched hero of the Six Day War against Egypt, appreciated Wingate’s military expertise but described him as ‘mad and maddening’.35 The ever-diplomatic Dr Weizmann, for whom Wingate was like a second son, confessed that he ‘did not think that his diplomatic activities in any way matched his military performance or his personal integrity’.36 Some Israelis’ view of leading American Christian Zionists today is similarly ambivalent; if their unconditional support for Israel is valuable and appreciated, their way of expressing that support can be, to use Herzl’s words, about Hechler and Dayan’s words about Wingate, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘maddening’. Josiah Wedgwood’s diplomatic instincts had proved a similarly mixed blessing to the Jews, but he would put them to the test again, after the Arab Revolt, when the British government began seeking a way out of the Palestinian mess it had created – a means of terminating the Mandate. In 1937, a lengthy report of the Peel Commission finally acknowledged that Arabs and Jews couldn’t share Palestine and recommended a speedy division of the country into two states. While Weizmann, Jabotinsky and Ben-Gurion reluctantly accepted the scheme as a basis from which to negotiate at some future date, Wedgwood, like thousands of millenarian Christian Zionists, resolutely opposed it. Never one to compromise, he became a mentor to hard-line Zionists. In May 1938, he received a letter from a group named the Association of Former Jewish Army Officers, begging for his advice and support for opposition to partition. His reply to them contained that support, and variations on his old virility theme: ‘Like you, I want to see a free, manly fighting people like the Maccabees in Palestine once again. I want to see an army of 40,000 Jews fit to defend all that you and I hold dear.’ 37 Chiding them for failing to stand up for themselves, he told them that the British would never allow themselves to be pushed around as they were being by the Mandate authorities: ‘You ask



me to imagine myself in your place with my kith and kin attacked and my hands tied. I can imagine nothing of the sort. An Englishman’s hands would not remain tied ...’ 38 The letter was a propaganda gift in the hands of its recipients, who wasted no time in translating it into much more inflammatory Hebrew and circulating it widely. Not for the first or the last time, Wedgwood’s meddling in Palestinian affairs had outraged the British Foreign Office, irritated the Zionist leadership and provided the Arabs with yet another proof of Albion’s perfidy. Back in Palestine, Wingate was banging the same drum, preaching resistance to Britain and telling his elite squads, ‘There will be no Jewish state unless you fight for it,’ and, he warned them, ‘it is the English you will have to fight’.39 If it was impossible to eject Josiah Wedgwood from Westminster, it was easy to remove Orde Wingate from Palestine; as a soldier, he had to obey orders. By 1940 the ‘ungovernable’ hayedid was back in London but still taking an active interest in Zionist affairs, bullying Weizmann to go to America to stir up propaganda against Britain’s policy in Palestine, reducing him to tears. When Weizmann refused, Wingate switched his efforts to Ben-Gurion, who proved no more ready than Weizmann to stab in the back a Britain that was standing alone against the Nazis at the time. Before leaving for Cairo with a stamp in his passport barring his return to Palestine, Wingate called Ben-Gurion a traitor. Wedgwood was more effective. In what he believed was a last-ditch attempt to secure the survival of the Zionist dream, he broadcast a long, sad speech to a banquet gathering of Zionists in New York in 1941. The thrust of his message was the same as Wingate’s – that Britain was no longer the Zionists’ best friend, that ‘God’s Englishmen’ such as himself were hopelessly few and powerless now to assist them, that they would have to find another advocate: ‘I have tried to save for my own countrymen the glory of rebuilding Jerusalem, of doing justice, of creating freedom. It is no use. They won’t do it. I can’t help. You must turn to America and take on the job yourselves. Ask no more from Britain ...’ 40 One last time, he had enraged the British government, inflamed the Arabs and out-Zionisted the Zionists. He died of heart trouble two years later, in 1943, without the satisfaction of knowing that he’d been on a Nazi list of Englishmen to be eliminated in the event of a German conquest, and without seeing a photograph of a ship named the Josiah Wedgwood, filled with concentration camp survivors, docking safely at Haifa in 1946. Orde Wingate, who had gone on to rehabilitate himself in his superiors’ eyes by acquitting himself heroically in Burma against the Japanese, died in a plane crash a year later, without ever seeing his beloved Palestine

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


again, without knowing that a village – Yemin Orde – would be named in his honour. Neither lived to see the realisation of their dream: the establishment of Israel in 1948. Even with the benefit of hindsight, even in the light of the Holocaust, it is impossible to estimate if the Wedgwood–Wingate way – arming the Zionists, jettisoning all pretence that Jews and Arabs could share Palestine peacefully, allowing unrestricted immigration from the start – would have resulted in less hardship for both Jews and Arabs in the long run. It can be argued, of course, that the Wedgwood–Wingate way was the only way to honour the Balfour Declaration’s undertaking to the Jews, and certainly it has proved the means by which Israel has secured its survival since 1948, as the Israeli historian, Avi Shlaim, has argued in The Iron Wall (2000). But, as almost sixty years of intermittent bitter conflict shows, the Wedgwood–Wingate way has not worked. In 1920 the Jews of Jerusalem were fighting Arab Muslim riots; today, Israel has a nuclear bomb but is squaring up to Iran, because that country appears intent on getting one too. The field of conflict has expanded enormously but the essence of the problem is unchanged. If Israel did not have its own nuclear deterrent, one could argue that her existence is as imperilled now as it has ever been. One could argue that the essence of the problem was already too deeprooted between the world wars for any remedy Wedgwood and Wingate could suggest. How far back does one have to go to find it? Very, very far ... Did God ‘bless’ or ‘curse’ the Jews by tying their faith and their national fortunes to one patch of territory above all others? Was the early Christian Church to blame for decreeing that the Word of God comprised both the Old Jewish and the New Christian Testament, thereby setting up an unending see-sawing between the harsher Judaic and the milder Christian ethic and so a persistent Christian fascination with the Jews? Alongside these weighty questions there is the grievous matter of centuries of vicious anti-Semitism, born of Christians’ fury that the Jews refused to recognise Jesus as their messiah, and the Holocaust. But what of British Christians’ and religious Jews’ belief that homeless Jews had to be ‘restored’ to Palestine? And Britain’s need for a wartime morale boost in 1916, and Dr Weizmann’s skilful overstatement of Zionist strength? All that can safely be said is that Wedgwood and Wingate’s brand of Christian Zionism – gung-ho and irresponsibly simplistic – inflamed an already incendiary situation in the period between the world wars. Precisely the same criticism can be levelled at American Christian Zionists’ interventions in the affairs of Israel and the Occupied Territories



today.* For the majority of them, there are no ifs and buts, no Arab case to be heard, no tragedy born of competing moral claims, no long history to be considered. In the world-view of many Christian Zionists there is no room for a Christian ethic when it comes to Israel, only an identical Old Testament-inspired penchant for virile militarism, and a fixation on the pledge God made to Abraham and so all Jews for ever: ‘I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse.’ 41 By betraying the promise of the Balfour Declaration and hampering the speedy construction of a Jewish state, Britain had ‘cursed’ the Jews and so lost her Empire, say Christian Zionists today. It has been America’s privilege, they say, indeed the primary guarantee of her superpower status for most of the twentieth century, to ‘bless’ the Jews.

Wedgwood’s emotive 1941 broadcast to banqueting New York Zionists, in which he advised them to switch their trust and hope away from Britain to America, only voiced the obvious truth. British Christian Zionism was out of style, dealt a death blow by the harsh realities involved in trying to administer Palestine by the terms of the hopelessly contradictory Balfour Declaration. By the outbreak of the Second World War, most British were struggling to recall General Allenby’s triumphant conquest of the Holy Land as a pious Christian duty happily, proudly performed. Mandate Palestine had become a burdensome and expensive responsibility, an imbroglio from which Britain couldn’t extricate herself with honour, an embarrassing symbol of the Empire’s decline, a shaming testament to the rewards of superpower hubris. Palestine’s warring inhabitants – Jews and Arabs – were feared and loathed in about equal measure by the embattled Mandate authorities and, by extension, by many British. Anti-Semitism, fanned by economic depression and the need for a scapegoat, was on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic, throughout the inter-war period. From the start, the ranks of the British army that marched into Palestine in 1917 and stayed for three years had been badly infected with it. Translations of a work of anti-Semitic Tsarist propaganda named the Protocols of the Elders of Zion † had travelled from southern

* Christian Zionists object to this UN formula to describe land that Israel conquered and occupied in 1967. Like Israelis, they refer to it by the biblical names of Judaea and Samaria. † The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion first appeared in a St Petersburg paper called the Banner; they served as propaganda for the wave of 1903–6 pogroms, and were endorsed by Tsar Nicholas II until he discovered

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


Russia where a British army had been supporting the anti-Bolshevik White Russian army after 1917, to British Mandate Palestine. Claiming to be the top secret deliberations of the world’s most powerful Jews, the Protocols revealed how the Jews planned to take over the world by exploiting the native ‘frankness’ and ‘honesty’ of the goyim, using a combination of cunning manipulation and ruthless sabotage.42 Wars, revolutions, industrial unrest and financial crises would all be the Jews’ handiwork, the Protocols explained, the Jews’ mechanisms to extend their control over the world’s banking, media, politics and even religions, until such time as ‘the King of the Jews will be the real pope of the Universe, the patriarch of an international Church’.43 There were sufficient grounds in the Jewish Old Testament to lend credence to this last proposition; Sir Henry Finch had been arrested and imprisoned in 1621 for predicting that the world’s monarchs would have to travel to Jerusalem to pay homage to an almighty King of the Jews. The Protocols forgery was exposed in a series of articles in the London Times newspaper in 1920, but not before its English version had run to five editions. And, for all Wedgwood’s trust that Americans would throw their weight behind the Zionist cause, there was enough evidence of anti-Semitism in inter-war America to suggest that Zionism would not have an easy ride. Fundamentalist Christianity, the natural home of Christian Zionism, had caught the virus. The exposure of the Protocols forgery didn’t prevent America’s most admired industrialist, Henry Ford, from printing half a million copies of it in the United States in the early 1920s. A Midwestern farm boy made wonderfully good in Michigan with his mass production of automobiles, Ford happened to share the Christian fundamentalists’ embattled belief that post-war America was losing its way, abandoning the old pieties, ceding too much ground to the liberals. In the Protocols he discovered a perfect reason for his feeling. Using them as the basis for a series of articles in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, he accused two American presidents – Woodrow Wilson and William Taft – of being ‘Gentile fronts’ for the Jews in their administrations. Daring new fashions, movies, and even the corruption of the baseball game, were all directly attributable to Jewish influence, in Ford’s view. Incessant revelations of the forgery, attempts to halt sales of the Dearborn Independent in Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh and a public library ban made no appreciable difference. The grand lie continued to be disseminated; Ford’s newspaper articles the work’s dubious origins and outlawed it – ‘A good cause cannot be defended by dirty means,’ he said. The work is still widely available in Arab translation, its authenticity vouched for by numerous Arab regimes.



reached Germany where Adolf Hitler had a photograph of the world’s most famous industrialist on the wall of his Munich office in the early 1920s. With Ford’s help American anti-Semitism reached its zenith in the interwar years; by 1922 a Chicago employment exchange was reporting that 67 per cent of job offers specified ‘no Jews’. Two years later an Immigration Act curtailed Jewish emigration to America. By 1925 up to 98 per cent of teaching jobs in the Midwest were reserved for Protestant Christians. Jews were being expelled from golf clubs, excluded from juries and colleges, and refused the right to buy property in some areas. Three years later a New York rabbi found himself having to rebut a charge of ‘ritual murder’.44 The economic climate made Jews the obvious scapegoat for every ill and produced Charles Lindbergh, the First World War flying ace turned Fascist politician, whose rise and fortunate fall Philip Roth fictionalised in his novel The Plot against America (2001). It was a climate that allowed a few prominent pre-millennial dispensationalists – men whose minds were, like Chuck Missler’s, unusually hospitable to conspiracy theories, codes and hidden causes – to treat the Protocols as a fresh source of Gospel truth. In spite of their Christian Zionist leanings, it was abundantly clear to such people that the ‘wrong kind of Jews’ – ‘international Jews’, who would neither convert to Christianity nor restore themselves to Palestine – were hell-bent on destroying America and her faith. One of the most influential was the Reverend William Bell Riley, the fundamentalist principal of the Northwestern Bible and Missionary School in Minneapolis. A mainstay of prophecy conferences and a powerful preacher, Riley first sounded off against the Jews for having erupted out of the ghetto to turn America upside down in 1921. But he only got into his anti-Semitic stride in the 1930s, after noticing how Jews were opposing bible-reading in schools, heckling him during his anti-evolution crusades and holding rabblerousing Bolshevik demonstrations. In 1934 Riley’s book, The Protocols and Communism, revealed that the same Jewish plot that lurked behind the Bolshevik Revolution was now at work in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal America. Five years later his Wanted – A World Leader! appeared – a still more vitriolic anti-Semitic salvo. Riley did react to criticism from fellow dispensationalists that his virulent anti-Semitism was doing no one any favours because there had to be some Jews left to convert to Christianity after the Rapture to survive the Tribulation, but he didn’t recant. Reiterating his conviction that ‘that the atheistic and international Jew is a world menace’, he merely conceded an unwillingness to make the issue ‘a source of disagreement

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


among Fundamentalists’.45 Riley always denied he was an anti-Semite on the grounds that he had nothing against ‘loyal Jews’. Throughout the 1930s, Riley and others convinced themselves that Hitler was not an anti-Semite but merely engaged in the laudable work of combating the Bolshevik threat posed by Soviet Russia and ‘the wrong kind of Jew’. Although most dispensationalists were swift to recognise Hitler’s true intentions when the publication of the Nuremberg Laws provided for the virtual exclusion of Jews from all public life in 1938, and a few would be quicker than anyone else to understand that a pogrom more wholesale and efficient than any before was in progress, Riley did not use his pulpit to denounce the Nazis until 1941. His achievement, in the words of one historian of religion, was to have ‘made anti-Semitic conspiratorialism seem a natural part of pre-millennial eschatology’.46 As soon as its cataclysmic dimensions became known, the Holocaust had to be fitted into the jigsaw puzzle of bible prophecy. But here the Divine Mind proved exceptionally hard to fathom. According to the premillennial dispensationalists’ understanding of the prophecies, such a mass culling of Jews was not scheduled to take place until the Battle of Armageddon, after the Rapture and the Tribulation. And the Second World War could not be the Battle of Armageddon, first because Armageddon was in Palestine and, secondly, because Germany lay outside the bounds of the ancient Roman Empire. The Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, had been far better qualified than Hitler for the role of the Antichrist, some had thought, but only briefly. Surely it was still the time for Jews to be joyfully restoring themselves to their ancient homeland, rather than dying by the million in death camps? Some found themselves reasoning that Hitler’s monstrous crime must be merely another instance of God punishing many of his Chosen People for being ‘the wrong kind of Jew’. The extermination of six million of the race must be God’s warning to the remainder to leave their secular existence in Europe and become what Blackstone called ‘true Zionists’ in Palestine. In effect, those fundamentalists concluded that Hitler had been doing God’s will; the entire rationale for the Holocaust had been to secure the survival and prosperity of the Jewish homeland after its less than promising start under British rule. God’s end justified God’s means. ‘It took Hitler to turn the Jews towards Palestine,’ wrote one fundamentalist, before comfortably anticipating that a yet more brutal punishment would be required to convert them to Christianity. ‘Anti-Christ’s persecution will be much more terrible than Hitler’s.’ 47 It’s hard to imagine a neater illustration of the ease with which fundamentalism of any kind – Jewish, Christian or Muslim – dispenses



with both divine and human responsibility for ethical conduct and, in so doing, betrays all that is good in religion.

Millenarian Christian Zionists played no more part in President Harry S. Truman’s crucially instant recognition of the new independent state of Israel in May 1948 than they had thirty years earlier in the issuing of the Balfour Declaration and the conquest of Palestine. President Truman belonged to the humanitarian wing of Christian Zionism. He shared Lloyd George’s, Arthur J. Balfour’s and C. P. Scott’s reasons for backing the Zionist project: the sense of a historic injustice crying out to be righted, the emotional conviction that the Jews must have their ancient homeland again, the awareness of the underdog and the belief that here was a rare opportunity to forsake the mundane murk of conventional politics for the high, pure light of moral principle. Like Lloyd George, Truman was a Baptist and the product of a pious and humble upbringing, in his case on a farm in the frontier state of Missouri; he had read the Bible five times by the age of fourteen and particularly loved Psalm 137: ‘By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion ...’ 48 Like Balfour and today’s Christian Zionists, Truman believed that Zionism required the support of every true Christian. In the words of his most recent biographer, he ‘sensed something profound and meaningful in the Jewish restoration to Palestine that transcended other considerations’.49 Like C. P. Scott, he was able to empathise with the sufferings of an oppressed and homeless minority; his grandparents had been given fifteen days to leave their farm in Jackson County, Missouri, during the Civil War. But, for all his folksy, down-home, tell-it-like-it-is manner, he had more in common with the austere President Woodrow Wilson than with Lloyd George, Balfour or C. P. Scott. Truman shared his predecessor’s highminded conviction that America, the new Israel, had been entrusted with ‘some great purpose’ 50 – one that involved implementing bible principles and spreading freedom throughout the world. No hard-headed strategising, or greed for territorial gain, or fear of a Jewish world conspiracy, or even a determination to secure the Jewish vote for his re-election in 1948, sullied Truman’s Christian Zionism. When he followed Franklin D. Roosevelt into the White House in early 1945, Truman inherited a Palestine policy that was going nowhere; eager to keep both Arabs and Jews sweet, Roosevelt had held off from committing America’s support to a Jewish state which Zionists were now – with the Holocaust lending gigantic moral weight to their claim – openly

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


demanding. Bridling at his State Department’s patronising warnings not to wade into such a complicated matter unprepared, the new president indicated his profound knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs by regularly producing his own map of Palestine, covered in plastic, held together by black tape and unmistakably well used. But Truman’s first concern was not with the Jewish state, whose creation he imagined the new United Nations would sanction some time soon. The reason for his close attention to Zionist affairs was the piteous plight of 100,000 Jewish concentration camp survivors and refugees penned up like prisoners in holding camps, yearning to be removed from Europe, the scene of their agony, to Palestine, their only hope. The British government, still struggling to keep order there and fearful of pro-Arab uprisings among the Empire’s other Muslim peoples, was limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine to 1,200 a month. Truman soon found himself under pressure from all sides. First, there was his State Department – ‘the boys in striped pants’, as he called its staff – who were broadly backing Britain’s line on the simple grounds that the good will of millions of Arabs who had oil resources mattered far more to America in a new world being carved up between the Soviet Union and America, than the plight of a few hundred thousand Jews and their tiny, oilfree homeland. On the other hand, there were the American Zionists who, more interested in consolidating a Jewish state than in rescuing Europe’s Holocaust survivors, were waging a powerful campaign to win Truman’s backing for Jewish independence. Between 1947 and 1948 they bombarded the White House with so much mail – 48,000 telegrams, 790,575 postcards and 81,200 other letters and parcels – that Truman finally, in his own words, ‘put it all in a pile and struck a match to it’.51 All this epistolary pressure, augmented by a Cleveland rabbi hammering on his desk and shouting at him, soon provoked the president to pithy expressions like ‘Jesus Christ couldn’t please them when he was here on earth so could anyone expect that I would have any luck?’ 52 To Eleanor Roosevelt he complained: ‘The actions of some of our American Zionists will eventually prejudice everyone against what they are trying to get done. I fear very much that Jews are like all underdogs. When they get on top, they are just as intolerant and cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath.’ 53 Way back in 1891, an American Jew had been anxious enough on the same account to oppose Blackstone’s proposal for a Jewish homeland. But Truman did not draw the same conclusion: that a Jewish state in Palestine would be a mistake. If the excitable rabbi and his thousands of Zionist correspondents were the wrong kind of Jew, whom he suspected of planning not a democratic state but a Judaic theocracy, there were Zionist



Jews he liked and admired; first, his close friend Eddie Jacobson with whom he’d once run a haberdashery business in Kansas City, whom he could rely on never to exploit their connection, and secondly, Dr Weizmann, whom he admired, liked and wholeheartedly trusted. Nevertheless, in March 1948, after two and a half years of painfully grappling with the problem, Truman was still insisting that the United Nations must decide the question of a Jewish state and, in Eddie Jacobson’s words, was ‘as close to being an anti-Semite as a man could possibly be’.54 It took all Jacobson’s powers of persuasion to get his old friend to agree to give the septuagenarian Dr Weizmann, who had crossed the Atlantic in the hope of meeting him, even twenty-five minutes of his time. In the event, Weizmann got forty-five minutes, and precisely what he had come for: Truman firmly pledged his support for the state that was about to be born in the flames of a war. In his autobiography Trial and Error, Weizmann recalled clinching the deal by telling the president, ‘History and Providence have placed this issue in your hands, and I am confident that you will yet decide it in the spirit of moral law.’ 55 The mention of ‘Providence’ is a small measure of how extraordinarily well Weizmann understood the Protestant Christian mind. Truman’s belief in the essential moral rectitude of creating a Jewish state would undergo its harshest test two months later, two days before the British Mandate in Palestine ended and the Zionists announced the birth of Israel. At 4 p.m. on 12 May 1948 the president girded his loins to confront his hostile State Department with the news that he was planning to recognise the new state the moment it was declared, and met with the department chief, the national war hero and author of the Marshall Plan of aid to post-war Europe, General George Marshall. Truman must have anticipated a negative reaction but what transpired nearly cost him his administration’s most valuable asset. While his adviser on Palestinian affairs, a young lawyer named Clark Clifford laid out a case for recognition based on the mounting popular sentiment that Jews must be compensated for the Holocaust with a safe refuge and on a quotation from the Book of Deuteronomy – ‘Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them’ 56 – General George Marshall’s face turned ‘redder and redder’ until, according to Clifford, it was ‘absolutely beet-red’.57 The man Truman called the ‘greatest living American’ was apoplectic with rage: ‘Mr. President,’ Marshall fulminated, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on here. We didn’t come over to have an emotional experience of these various elements; we came over to consider

‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’


a complicated foreign policy problem and to consider certain international laws that are applicable to this issue.’ 58 In other words, was Truman really about to apply Sunday school precepts to a foreign policy issue that might decide whether the United States or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dominated the post-war world? To recognise the new Jewish state would be madness, in Marshall’s view; he believed that the United Nations should administer Palestine for a period, and his arguments in favour of that course of action were substantial. To grant the Zionists such a pledge of support while they were still at war with the Arabs was risky in the extreme when it looked as if America might have go to war in Europe again to keep Stalin out of Czechoslovakia. How could she do that effectively with thousands of troops tied up defending Israel? Most of war-ravaged Europe was reliant on Arab oil. What would happen if the Arabs registered their protest at the Zionist state by turning off the taps? Furthermore, it was foolhardy to please America’s Zionists so close to the election. Did Truman want Americans thinking he was in thrall to the Jews? Last, but not least, everyone knew there were powerful Communist elements among the Zionists. Did the president have any guarantee that the new state would even be democratic? General Marshall rounded off his protest with a brave threat: he told Truman he couldn’t vote for him in the forthcoming election if he recognised the Jewish state. In effect, he couldn’t remain on the president’s team. Truman kept his nerve, suggesting that everyone go away and sleep on the matter. ‘That was as rough as cob!’ the former farm boy exclaimed to Clark Clifford when the meeting was over, but assured him that he had not changed his mind. For twenty-four hours there was deadlock and then, just a few hours before David Ben-Gurion formally declared the new state of Israel, General Marshall backed down, somehow persuaded that the matter was not important enough to merit his resignation. President Truman recognised Israel de facto at eleven minutes after midnight, Israeli time, on 15 May 1948. A clue that Truman’s laudably humanitarian motives were mixed with a desire to go down in the history books as a world leader like no other before him came five years later, in his final year in office. On a visit to a Jewish yeshiva, his friend Eddie Jacobson proudly presented Truman to the faculty as ‘the man who helped create the state of Israel’, but was interrupted by Truman. ‘What do you mean,’ he corrected him, ‘helped create? I am Cyrus, I am Cyrus.’ 59 A hundred and thirty years earlier Lewis Way had offered Tsar Alexander I the chance to emulate the sixth-century bc Persian king who liberated 4,000 Jews from their Babylonian captivity;



some fifty years previously President Benjamin Harrison had resisted the same offer made by William E. Blackstone in his Memorial. Truman prided himself on having risen to the challenge and did not care who knew it. Millenarian Christian Zionists, of course, never doubted Truman had been guided by God’s need to implement his plan. Another huge step had been taken along the long road towards the Second Coming. A forceful Texan pastor who’d journeyed all the way to Palestine to try and persuade the Chief Mufti of Jerusalem that a Zionist state was what the Arabs needed hailed the creation of Israel as ‘the greatest event in two thousand years’ 60 – since Jesus’s birth, in effect – and took up where Josiah Wedgwood and Orde Wingate had left off by beseeching Truman to arm the Jews. The deliriously happy Christian Zionist editor of America’s Weekly Evangel gushed, ‘We may well wonder whether we are awake or lost in sleep merely having a very exciting dream ...’ 61 Reverend Jerry Falwell, the personification of American Christian Zionism during the 1980s and ’90s, has a framed front page of the British Mandate era Palestine Post hanging on the wall behind his desk. Dated 16 May 1948, its headline reads state of israel is born. America’s most influential Christian Zionist today, Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church was a boy of eight in 1948, sitting in the kitchen at home, listening to the radio with his father, when the news of Israel’s birth was declared. He will never forget his father telling him, ‘Son, this is the most important day of the 20th century.’ 62


With the disastrous end of the British Mandate in Palestine and the demise of the British Empire, the British role in the history of Christian Zionism dwindles to almost nothing. To the bewilderment of American Christian Zionists today, Christian Zionism in Britain is about as negligible a force as it is in any other traditionally Protestant country – somewhat weaker than in the Netherlands or Norway or South Africa; stronger than in France. The Christian Zionist story from 1948 to the present day is, therefore, an overwhelmingly American and Israeli one. America is where the theological scaffolding of modern Christian Zionism – John Nelson Darby’s pre-millennial dispensationalism – established itself most firmly, which accounts for why, in its popular form, modern American Christian Zionism is more millenarian than humanitarian. This, in turn, means that its roots are more easily traced back to the seventeenth century or the early nineteenth century than to the early twentieth-century era of Balfour, Lloyd George and Truman. Since 1948 America’s moral support for Israel has been more than matched by its practical support. The proxy conflicts of the Cold War cemented the military alliance between the two countries, especially after 1967. While the Soviet Union funded and backed a number of Arab states in the region as well as the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the West, led by America, flouted its own Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – thereby fatally undermining its argument against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons


1948 onwards

today, for example – by secretly undertaking to supply Israel with the makings of a nuclear bomb after 1969. Israel has long been the recipient of a third of America’s annual aid budget, approximately $3.5 billion, most of it directed towards military purposes. American diplomatic support for Israel at the United Nations has been staunch and invaluable. Both the ever-present threat of a nuclear Armageddon launched from Moscow and the Manichaean divisions of the Cold War tended to reinforce the Christian Zionist world-view. By the late 1980s the Washington religious broadcaster Reverend Dale Crowley was identifying pre-millennial dispensationalism as the ‘fastest growing religious movement in Christianity today’. He described a phenomenon that was ‘not composed of so-called “crazies” so much as mainstream, middle to upper-middle class Americans’, and proceeded to estimate that ‘at least one out of every ten Americans is a devotee of this cult’.1 That proportion has been growing ever since, thanks to tumultuous events like the collapse of the Communist bloc, the first Gulf War and, of course, 9/11 and Bush’s War on Terror. By the close of 2006 the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the threat of a nucleararmed Iran had raised the millenarian temperature so high that one in four Americans was judging it either ‘likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ that Jesus would stage his Second Coming in 2007.2 What follows is a survey of the Christian Zionist scene in recent times. From now on, I treat the subject more thematically than chronologically, focusing on some of the movement’s chief exponents and the aspect of Christian Zionism on which they have made, and continue to make, their mark. Hal Lindsey, the self-proclaimed ‘Father of the Modern Prophecy Movement’, has earned his place in the history of Christian Zionism many times over by adding to a prodigious talent for purveying the ideology’s central tenets in a popular form, an impressive willingness to exploit each new means of communication. The phenomenal spread and appeal of millenarian Christian Zionism this century – an ‘Apocalypse Loud’ – makes more sense once one understands the part that all forms of media have been playing in its propagation for the past thirty-five years. An ideology first disseminated in literature and at prophecy conferences has brilliantly adapted itself to radio and television, to popular fiction and cyberspace. The significance of the Religious Right today and Christian Zionism’s place in it is best gauged by tracing its sturdy roots back to the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan eras, when three of today’s most influential Christian Zionists – the fundamentalist Baptist pastor Reverend Jerry Falwell, the media mogul and would-be politician Pat Robertson, and the pastor and best-selling author Tim LaHaye – launched their careers. ‘A Disciplined,



Charging Army’ charts the current political and cultural influence of these personalities on George W. Bush’s ‘faith-based presidency’. ‘Watchmen for Israel’ examines the spiritual make-up and activities of Christian Zionists who feel called by God to counteract international peace efforts in Israel–Palestine by supporting the establishment of West Bank Jewish settlements and actively opposing all land concessions. I examine the Israeli opposition, or rather lack of it, to this Christian Zionist involvement in their country, and the more vigorous opposition of the Palestinian Christian churches in Jerusalem. To determine the nature and extent of Christian Zionist influence on George W. Bush’s Washington and the reaction of American Jews to its growth, I attend a Christian Zionist gathering in Washington. ‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’ explores how the ‘special relationship’ between America and Israel has been outshining that between America and Britain. Christian Zionism, in its political and millenarian aspects, goes a very long way towards accounting for the gaping gulf in understanding and sympathy between Europe and the United States since 11 September 2001. ‘Talking Texan’ describes a journey I made to Texas – the emotional and cultural heartland of both Christian Zionism and, many would say, of President Bush’s Washington. I am in search of a reasonable explanation for so many Americans’ allegiance to an ideology that more closely resembles Slobodan Milosevič’s or Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad’s brand of bellicose religious nationalism than anything most of the world would call Christianity.

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chapter 7

Apocalypse Loud

With his luxuriant crest of silver hair, Zapata moustache and Californian suntan gleaming under the spotlights of this mega-church in a northern suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, Hal Lindsey could pass for an ageing film star. None the worse for a recent knee operation, he strides to centre stage, settles his bible on the lectern and opens the prophecy conference. ‘Tonight I’ll deliver a message,’ he begins in a confiding Southern drawl. ‘I don’t need to tell you we live in exciting times ...’ Long ago relegated to the pages of history books or the cranky fringe in Britain, prophecy conferences are a thriving aspect of the Religious Right scene in today’s America. Bible prophecy, but also inspirational tales of gays gone ‘straight’ with the Lord’s help, of a PLO member turned Christian Zionist, or an abortionist turned pro-Life, for example, are all fit topics for these events. Within a month of this Minneapolis conference, I could have been attending half a dozen more. Faithfully gathered here, inside, on what might be the last balmy Friday evening of 2005, this audience of around 4,000 white Americans of all ages and both sexes (the Religious Right is almost exclusively a white phenomenon; African-Americans, even those susceptible to millenarianism, are traditionally much more likely to vote Democrat) falls silent in time for Lindsey’s next pronouncement. He’s been saying it for almost forty years at get-togethers like this, in his many books and his Internet news service, on his weekly cable television programme and on scores of Holy Land tours,* but he’ll say it again: ‘I believe we’re on the threshold of the coming of Christ!’

* Hal Lindsey was in Israel, leading another Bible tour, at the same time as Chuck Missler was leading his in March 2006.


1948 onwards

Inviting the audience to open their bibles, he turns to the prophet Isaiah’s warnings about a period of accelerating turbulence and destruction before Jesus’s return, a time of ‘wars and rumours of wars’, plagues, earthquakes and hurricanes. As half repellent, half attractive as that of Edward Irving two hundred years earlier, Lindsey’s message is generating a mood of anxious, righteous excitement tonight. It strikes me that from a psychological point of view, there’s a good deal to be said for projecting one’s own dissatisfactions, confusions and furies into the realm of an inevitable cosmic catastrophe. How can one be held responsible for one’s failures and shortcomings when the world has entered on its End Times? And the signs of those End Times are stacking up thick and fast: 9/11, antibiotic-resistant super-bugs, the south-east Asian tsunami, the melting of the ice-cap, bird flu and Hurricane Katrina are like ‘labour pains’, occurring more and more frequently now, just as the Bible promises, but there’s worse to come. ‘You haven’t seen anything yet!’ says Hal. ‘We had three days’ warning for Hurricane Katrina, but what will happen when someone decides to smuggle a nuclear warhead into one of our ports, and the radioactivity spreads everywhere? There’ll be no warning then. Leading intelligence officers say it’s not a question of if, but when ...’ A prophet needs as much technical support as he can muster these days. Buttressing his efforts to fit current developments to ancient Jewish prophecies with endorsements from ‘leading intelligence officers’, briefings by Mossad officers and secret NASA reports he’s hacked into, Lindsey also regularly reminds his listeners of his solid theological grounding, with references to the original Greek version of the scriptures. ‘You always get the best information from the Greek – I thank God I majored in Greek!’ he declares. It’s clear that this attentive crowd, with their bibles and notepads open on their laps, would sooner trust Hal Lindsey’s analysis of current events and trends than anything the mainstream news media are telling them. In God and the Bible and Hal Lindsey they trust. ‘But Christ says, do not be terrified!’ Lindsey continues. ‘If you’ve given your life to him and a nuclear weapon goes off, just pray that you’re near it because you’ll be launched straight into heaven! Every believer sits or stands on a launching pad! Every believer will be launched into space!’ John Nelson Darby might have been delighted to hear this audience erupt in whoops of delight and joyous Amens. Most share Darby’s midnineteenth-century belief that before the full horror of those ‘labour pains’ can affect them personally, they’ll be Raptured up to heaven, out of harm’s way. Darby’s divine emergency exit is what makes critics who

Apocalypse Loud


dismiss events like this as ‘doom and gloom conferences’ so wrong, says Hal, because ‘when things get dark for the world, they get a lot brighter for Christians’. The Rapture is around the corner, he claims. ‘Lift up your head for your redemption draws near!’ A 2004 Newsweek poll found that 55 per cent of Americans believed in the Rapture,1 but a woman in this audience has identified a technical glitch in that lucky loophole: what will become of children too young to have consciously accepted Christ as their saviour when the Rapture happens? ‘Children will go with a believing parent – otherwise you’ll have lots of parents up there who’ll want to come back,’ Lindsey reasons confidently, to a ripple of relieved laughter. Digressing a moment, he confesses that his own twin daughters were so scared by his Rapture talk they gave up any hope of reaching adulthood. ‘I probably didn’t do it quite right,’ he admits with an easy chuckle. All mixed up with his Southern charm, his preacherly pedantry and boyish enthusiasm for the military, there is a swaggering facetiousness about Lindsey – very like that of his old friend, Chuck Missler. There’s also a good deal of the prophecy pro who long ago learned not to schedule any one of these End Times events too tightly. His advice to this audience is: ‘Prepare as if you’re going to live a normal life span but each morning, when you get up, prepare to live that day as if it’s your last.’ Lindsey deals with hurricanes and global warming and the falsely soothing teachings of many pastors – ‘ear-ticklers’, he calls them – who play down or ignore the gruesome Armageddon awaiting those who haven’t pledged their lives to Christ. Now he writes off the older Christian denominations by dismissing them all as a bunch of ‘cathepiscobapatarians’. The embattled anti-intellectualism of late nineteenth-century fundamentalism is clearly audible. The old Liberals versus Fundamentalists clash lies at the very heart of modern America’s famous ‘Culture Wars’. Laughing uproariously now, his audience is energised, on the inside track with him, getting at the truths behind the headlines, expecting the worst for a sinfully liberal world, hoping for the Rapture for themselves. The time has come to ensure that they’re fully apprised of the crucial role that Israel has been playing since 1970 when he, Lindsey, first identified the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948 as ‘God’s plot-point’. ‘God’s corporate representative to the world was ancient Israel,’ he begins. The Jews failed to recognise Jesus Christ as the messiah so it was up to the Gentiles to spread the Christian Gospel, he reminds us, but God never revoked his early promises to the Jews concerning their land: ‘Israel is the only nation that has a title deed from the creator of this planet!’ he says. The Jews were only ‘temporarily set aside’ until now, when they’re


1948 onwards

reclaiming centre stage, starring in the delivery room drama of the End Times, heading for the Tribulation, for a short-lived peace and then a struggle against the Antichrist and Armageddon. Hal claims that God has promised to ‘judge every nation that tries to stop what he’s doing with Israel’. Anyone who fails to love Israel must take care, he warns, because ‘if you begin to hate the Israelites you’ll begin to find yourself in contest with God himself!’ Lindsey has loved Israel for the past forty years. Like his old friend Chuck Missler, or Colonel Josiah Wedgwood, he can act the big fish in the small but vitally important pond of Israel. Name-dropping Mossad generals and Israeli prime ministers is his stock in trade. He’s proud to recall a happy meeting with Ariel Sharon long before he became Israel’s prime minister, at which he warned him that the prophet Ezekiel had identified Russia as Israel’s greatest enemy. With a ‘twinkle’ in his eye, General Sharon reportedly replied, ‘I know that. I use the Bible a lot in my military tactics.’ Lindsey now admits to feeling shocked dismay at Sharon’s voluntary withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in July 2005, at his willingness to part with what Bible-believers know to be land promised to the Jews. How to account for such a flagrant flouting of God’s will? Lindsey does his best: ‘Sharon came up with a plan I believe. He knew that there was one thing he could count on, that the Palestinians would keep on with their terrorism. He gave them their freedom because he knew what they would do with it. Now he knows he’s got a target-rich environment there in Gaza – they’re all in one place!’ His cruel vision of a Palestinian turkey shoot is met by a burst of applause. ‘That’s right on!’ someone shouts. The hostess of the event, Jan Markell, joins Hal on the podium and they settle themselves on high stools with microphones in their hands, as if they might croon an evangelical hymn together. But this is a question and answer session. Jan – a Jewish convert to Christianity with her own syndicated radio show and an Internet ministry devoted, like Hal’s, to analysing ‘current events from a biblical and prophetic perspective’ 2 – kicks it off by asking Hal whether the United States or Israel will neutralise the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. After carefully opining that the current situation in Iraq would make opening another front against Iran difficult right now, Lindsey insists that he loves President George W. Bush as a fellow bible-believing Christian, but heartily wishes he understood prophecy well enough to realise that Islam is ‘violent to the core’ and go ahead and open that new front. When Jan prods him again for a prediction about Israel’s role vis-à-vis Iran, Lindsey reveals that ‘good friends in the Israeli air force’ have told him Israel is

Apocalypse Loud


ready and willing to take on Iran. ‘You can count on it – if someone else doesn’t do it, Israel will,’ he says. Jan Markell is just as troubled by the threat posed by another Muslim neighbour of Israel – Syria. Inviting the audience to open their bibles at Isaiah 17: 1, Lindsey reads aloud: ‘“An oracle concerning Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city, and will become a heap of ruins ...” My opinion is that Damascus will be destroyed before the Rapture ...’ ‘By Israel?’ prompts Jan again. ‘By Israel. Syria’s a troublemaker, a terrorist headquarters, and the prime reason why our troops are in such trouble in Iraq. I wish the US would obliterate Syria and not leave it to Israel ...’ I can hardly believe my ears. Obliterate Syria? The audience is rapt, eager with more questions. It’s time for a break. Outside, in the church lobby there’s a hubbub of activity around trestle tables stacked high with the reading and viewing matter of the Religious Right, videos, DVDs, pamphlets, and T-shirts inscribed with ‘he’s coming!’ which a woman is touting as ‘a great witnessing tool’ for Christ’s return. Prophecy conferences, Christian book sales, Internet merchandising of bible study materials and Holy Land tours add up to a multibillion-dollar business in America, the like of which exists nowhere else on earth. By these means, and from the pulpits of over 700 mega churches whose average membership is almost 7,000 and whose average annual income is almost $5 million,3 the Religious Right propounds and reinforces a world-view that is attractively exciting, simple and coherent. Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming (2006), a book detailing what she believes to be the wider theocratic ambitions of the Religious Right, attended a Denver Christian trade fair at which she found works of history claiming that Christian America had been sabotaged by liberals, and science books claiming that men and dinosaurs had shared the Garden of Eden. ‘I sometimes felt I was in a novel by Jorge Luis Borges,’ she wrote, ‘drifting through a parallel reality contained in a monumental library of lies.’ 4 While flicking through Closing the Closet, a work aimed at worried Christian parents of homosexuals, I eavesdrop on a man recounting how he confronted a work supervisor who forbade him to ‘witness’ to one of his colleagues: ‘... so I just asked her straight, “D’you really expect me not to try and stop this person from going to hell? ...”’ I overhear one woman tell another, ‘You know what? In my church people just don’t get the importance of Israel.’ A youth in a T-shirt and baseball cap tells me what’s lured him here this evening: ‘I figure this is the best time in the world to be a Christian because there are so many validating signs – you know, the restoration of Israel and all that.’


1948 onwards

Someone tells me he’s surprised the Rapture hasn’t happened yet and also worried that, by giving Sharon a green light to ‘divide Israel’ by relinquishing Gaza, America will ‘bring down the judgment of God’ on itself. A man in military intelligence wants to know if I’ve accepted Jesus as my ‘personal saviour’. Hal Lindsey’s chauffeur for the weekend, a middleaged accountant, chuckles admiringly while telling me that Hal started out as a lowly tugboat captain on the Mississippi, brawling in the French Quarter of New Orleans on his days off, sleeping off week-long drinking binges with a loaded Colt .45 by his side, but turned his life around by reading the Bible, enrolling himself at Dallas Theological Seminary and qualifying as a pastor. Chauffeuring Hal around town this weekend feels as good, he says, as ‘driving the Apostle Paul around’. Twin towers of Lindsey’s published works are shrinking fast, including The Late Great Planet Earth, the best-selling non-fiction title of the 1970s that did for Christian Zionism what the invention of the printing press did for the Bible.

Like Sir Henry Finch’s Great Restauration in 1621 and William E. Blackstone’s Jesus is Coming in 1878, The Late Great Planet Earth tapped into the Zeitgeist, a mood of anxious disaffection. The Cold War was heating up again in Vietnam, Israel’s existence was still not secure, liberalisation and prosperity had permitted an orgy of hedonistic excess, and Man now had the know-how to destroy the entire planet in the instantaneous and wholesale fashion described in the Book of Revelation. Hal was preaching on California college campuses in the late 1960s. Noting and promoting the reviving Christian faith of students who’d overdosed on drugs and sex and freedom, he was hearing many ask themselves if God was still blessing America. Was God still on America’s side? Prophecy was ‘in’; young people were anxious to make sense of developments. In April 1967 Lindsey told a campus crowd that the Jews would soon conquer Jerusalem. When two months later little Israel triumphed over a Goliath of three Arab armies in the Six Day War and duly took the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, Lindsey was perfectly placed to point out that, whatever God thought of America, he was demonstrably on Israel’s side.* Millions of American Bible-believers were tuned to the same wavelength; the mass-circulation Christianity Today * The Israeli Defence Force captured East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount/ Haram al-Sharif, but retreated from the latter almost immediately, to the chagrin of many Christian Zionists.

Apocalypse Loud


declared that the conquest of Jerusalem was giving all Bible-believers ‘a thrill, and a renewed faith in the accuracy and validity of the Bible’.5 Earlier connoisseurs of prophecy had hailed the Balfour Declaration and Britain’s conquest of Palestine as the surest proof that the divine plan was on track before confidently rearranging the map of Europe according to prophecy. Fixated on Israel as ‘God’s timepiece’, Lindsey set about forecasting the content of the next four decades of newspaper headlines in The Late Great Planet Earth. Promising his readers that they were in for ‘a time of electrifying excitement’ 6 if they could only accept that God was at the controls, he exhorted them to watch for more ‘signs of the times’. Like Sir Henry Finch, he forecast that Israel would become ‘fantastically wealthy’.7 What was then the European Economic Community would, he prophesied, expand into the world’s superpower and produce the Antichrist – ‘the Future Führer’. The United States, meanwhile, conspicuous by its absence in the Bible, would continue to wreck itself with ‘student rebellions and Communist subversion’.8 Prophecy, Lindsey declared, pointed to the Soviet Union and Iran allying themselves with other Muslim states to attack the new Jewish state, a scenario that would inexorably lead to a conflict featuring nuclear strikes: ‘Imagine cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago – obliterated!’ 9 But there was room for conventional warfare too in Hal’s vision. Israel’s enemies could disembark amphibious troops at Haifa, within easy reach of the Plain of Jezreel, which was just made for landing jet-fighters. On the grounds that the Apostle Matthew had spoken of ‘signs of the times’ and a generation not passing until ‘all these things be fulfilled’,10 Hal could even suggest a date for Armageddon: 1988. All Christians could do in the interim was turn their hearts to God and pray for the Rapture – ‘the ultimate trip!’ The old pre-millennial dispensationalist message, punchily repackaged in a slim paperback whose crude maps depicted evil forces as thick black arrows converging on Israel, sold a million within a month of its appearance in 1970 and has sold over 30 million since, in fifty-four languages. ‘I’d imagine that I was sitting across the table from a young person – a cynical, irreligious person and I’d try to convince him that the Bible prophecies were true,’ 11 is how Hal has explained The Late Great Planet Earth’s flooding of airport news-stands and prominent placing among works on the Tarot, astrology, the I Ching, UFOs, The Joy of Sex, and magic on the ‘New Age’ shelves of bookstores. ‘When I became a Christian in the early ’70s,’ a Tom Albrecht recalls on his website, ‘everyone was so sure that the Rapture was just around the corner that we would read our Bible with the New York Times in one hand and


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LGPE in the other ... kids were just looking for something, anything, to make sense out of life.’ 12 Hal’s audience was not all ‘kids’. In 1979 Orson Welles narrated a film version of The Late Great Planet Earth: ‘... As the world staggers from one crisis to another, I believe that we’re racing on a countdown to the end of history as we know it ...’ Described by Internet critics today as ‘boring’, ‘obviously dated and kind of silly’, it featured interviews with scientific, religious, military and diplomatic experts, including Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations at the time, who all agreed that the world was headed for nuclear meltdown. Soon, Hal was sharing his prophetic insights with America’s Air War College, and with the Pentagon where ‘hundreds’ 13 flocked to hear him, and with a group of ‘very distinguished looking men’ whose job was to gather ‘the latest military intelligence on every nation’s war-making potential, decide what the American response should be and then predict the final outcome of any conflicts’.14 They told him their computer had just forecast the same events the prophet Daniel had prophesied. Ronald Reagan read The Late Great Planet Earth in 1971, recommended it to friends and reportedly told a Californian politician over dinner that year, ‘Everything is falling into place. It can’t be too long now ... Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God’s people [Jews]. That must mean that they’ll be destroyed by nuclear weapons ... Ezekiel tells us that Gog, the nation that will lead all the other powers of darkness against Israel, will come out of the north. Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia. What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None.’ 15 Israelis read The Late Great Planet Earth. A Mossad operative insisted on translating it into Hebrew. When Menachem Begin, a keen Bible scholar and Israel’s prime minister between 1977 and 1983, died in 1992 there was a copy of The Late Great Planet Earth on his bedside table. Many of Hal’s prophecies neatly came to pass in the 1970s: the European Economic Community duly expanded from ten to fifteen members; the ‘godless’ Soviet Union remained a threat, especially following its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979; in the same year the Shah of Iran was replaced by a fundamentalist Islamic regime; the Cold War arms race accelerated. Bible prophecy was ‘in’. The most prominent televangelists of the time – including the subsequently notorious Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker – preached the gospel of pre-millennial dispensationalism. Time and again Lindsey doomed all attempts to make peace in the Middle East to failure. Ignoring the dove-ish sign of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1971, the hawkish prophet wrote There’s a

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New World Coming: A Prophetic Odyssey (1973), turning up the heat by claiming that the Jewish prophets’ visions of the cataclysm at Armageddon had accurately predicted the appalling effects of nuclear weapons. President Jimmy Carter’s Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978 were similarly dismissed as worthless. Three years later, Lindsey ratcheted up the End Times pressure again. Events were now hurtling so fast towards the grand finale of Jesus’s Second Coming that the 1980s ‘could very well be the last decade of history as we know it’,16 he warned in The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (1981). Bemoaning the enfeeblement of America under Democrat President Carter, he abandoned his earlier despair at America to opine: ‘I believe that the Bible supports building a powerful military force. And the Bible is telling the United States to become strong again.’ 17 He forecast the assassination of President Sadat, which came to pass the same year, but Russia didn’t invade Israel and the world kept on turning into the new millennium. Sometimes on target, sometimes not, the modern prophet continues to prophesy at conferences, in books, on the television and radio and on his website. On New Year’s Eve 2005 he claimed that ‘something would happen to [Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’ 18 to facilitate the rightwing Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election as Israel’s prime minister; Sharon was duly felled by a stroke, but Netanyahu and his Likud Party were soundly defeated by Sharon’s Kadima party, now led by Ehud Olmert. Almost three weeks into Israel’s campaign to root Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon in July 2006, Hal was posting an attack on anyone protesting against Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ use of force, and an urgent intelligence briefing. ‘I just received some electrifying intelligence data,’ he said; according to a general in Mossad, Russia, Iran and Syria had recently concluded a defence pact. The news backed up Hal’s The Late Great Planet Earth theory – discredited since the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – that the world had a warm-up global conflagration to look forward to, before the final Battle of Armageddon. What is most important is that all this is setting up Ezekiel’s 2600 year-old prophecy in Ezekiel 38. Persia, or modern Iran, is listed as chief among the Muslim nations Russia will lead into an all-out assault against Israel. This is predicted to be the first battle of the war of Armageddon. The nation that does not seem to be listed is Syria. I believe this is because, as a result of actions it is now taking against Israel, Isaiah’s prophecy about Damascus in the last days is soon going to be fulfilled.19


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Isaiah’s prophecy about Damascus is the one he read aloud at the Minneapolis prophecy conference, ten months earlier: ‘An oracle concerning Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city, and will become a heap of ruins ...’

Lindsey’s dextrous use of the electronic media is not extraordinary among leading American Christian Zionists. America’s Christian fundamentalists have been quicker than most to spot and exploit the potential of every innovation in the field of mass communications. A Pittsburgh fundamentalist pastor was the first to broadcast a church service on the radio in 1920. Soon afterwards, the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago acquired its own radio transmitter and others followed its lead. After new licensing regulations closed many stations down in 1927, pastors began buying airtime on mainstream stations. As the war between fundamentalists and liberals heated up, the liberals – then in control of the powerful Southern Baptist Conference of today – put a stop to the sale of airtime, but independent stations were exempt. By 1937, the famous Old Fashioned Revival Hour was going out on 14 stations, by 1942 on 456.20 Reverend Jerry Falwell – probably America’s best-known fundamentalist and Christian Zionist pastor – has recalled how his mother would go to church on Sundays, leaving her lazy twin sons to listen to it in her absence. A nostalgic Falwell has modelled his own televised Old Time Gospel Hour – ‘seen in every American home and on every continent except Antarctica’ 21 – on it. Pat Robertson, a Christian Zionist of the same vintage as Jerry Falwell and Hal Lindsey, pioneered Christian television in 1960 by buying a bankrupt station, renaming it Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and equipping it with a mission to prepare the whole world ‘for the coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of his Kingdom on Earth’.22 Shortly after Israel’s hard-won war against Syria and Egypt in 1973, Robertson received an invitation to interview Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Later, Robertson recalled gazing out over Jerusalem’s Old City on the last night of that first visit to the Holy Land and making ‘a solemn vow to the Lord that whatever happens, however unpopular it would be, whatever the consequences, ... I personally and those organisations that I was in charge of, would stand for Israel’.23 Robertson’s CBN is now seen in 180 countries and broadcast in 71 languages. Robertson has long been the stuff of urban legend among Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem; they mock him as the American televangelist who believes his CBN cameras will capture exclusive footage of the Second Coming to beam around the world.

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Barred from buying time on the television giants, NBC and CBS, the fundamentalists had set up their own lobbying group, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), in 1942. Two years later, the NAE’s electronic media arm – the National Religious Broadcasters’ association (NRB) – was formed, describing itself as ‘a conservative group dedicated to improving the quality and protecting the rights of independent broadcast ministries’.24 The NRB voted Robertson ‘Christian Broadcaster of the Year’ in 1989, and now claims to speak for 1,600 Christian radio and television broadcasters with a combined audience of 141 million – almost half the population of the United States. Both the NAE and the NRB are powerful natural strongholds of Christian Zionism, efficiently promoting a Manichaean world-view in which Israel and America are automatically on God’s side against evil Islam, just as surely as they were when battling evil Communism. President Reagan chose to deliver his famous ‘Evil Empire’ speech about the Soviet Union at the NRB convention of 1983. President Bill Clinton was never invited to speak, but the NRB has held ‘monthly conference calls with the White House’ 25 since soon after George W. Bush’s election in 2000. His address to the 2003 NRB convention contained, according to the Washington Post, the ‘most thorough linkage yet between [his] worldly policies and his Christian faith – including a pronouncement that an attack on Iraq would be “in the highest moral traditions of our country”’.26 While reporting the NRB’s 2005 convention for Harper’s Magazine, the author and journalist Chris Hedges was struck by both the visibility of the Israeli tourism ministry and the volubility of Christian Zionists. Prominently displayed in the convention’s exhibition hall was a startling installation, the scorched skeleton of Bus #19. The horrible handiwork of a Palestinian suicide bomber who killed eleven Israelis in Jerusalem in 2004, it was decked with banners inscribed with Bible quotes – ‘I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse’ 27 and ‘I will plant [Israel] upon their own land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them’.28 Hedges was one among hundreds attending a lavish convention breakfast, hosted by the Israeli Minister of Tourism, at which the Christian Zionist religious writer and broadcaster, Kay Arthur, told him that – faced with the choice – she would choose Israel over the United States: ‘I would stand with Israel, stand with Israel as a daughter of the King of Kings.’ 29 Anyone travelling around America today, scanning the airwaves on a car radio or channel-surfing in a motel bedroom, soon sees that the televangelist scandals of the 1980s haven’t cramped Christian broadcasting’s style. Some of the most popular programmes are those of fervent Christian Zionists,


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and the sensational yet practical shock and awe tone of their message is as appealing as Pastor George Adams’s was to the ‘Regenerators’ in early 1860s Maine. With the average prime-time audience for CNN standing at only just over 700,000, Pat Robertson’s 700 Club * – carried by three different networks – boasts an audience of 863,000.30 Another big name, Benny Hinn, is a regular on the Christian networks; Palestinian by origin but a committed Christian Zionist, he was in Israel in the spring of 2003 promising to boost the country’s flagging tourism by encouraging thousands of Christians and their pastors to take Holy Land tours. It’s hard to avoid the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ slickly emotive appeals for funds to ‘restore’ Jews of the former Soviet Union to Israel. Once, while watching Christian TV, I happened upon John Hagee, the most energetic Christian Zionist pastor today, of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. A hefty elderly man in a dark suit, he was sitting with an Israeli Orthodox rabbi in a sumptuous studio lounge, talking about an orphanage the rabbi had founded and needed more funding for. At the bottom of the screen the words ‘Those that bless Israel shall be blessed’ scrolled by, over and over again. Present also in that distractingly opulent setting was one of the rabbi’s orphans, a shy young Russian Jew whose brief ‘It’s a special privilege to live in Israel today’ was enlarged upon by Hagee’s ‘God has promised the land of Israel to his people and he is faithful to those promises’ and amplified again by his ‘blessings are poured out on upon those who bless the nation of Israel’. Hal Lindsey boasted a slot on one of the biggest Christian television networks – Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), advertised as ‘the world’s largest religious network and America’s most watched faith channel’ – until his programme was pulled in December 2005. He complained that ‘some at the network apparently feel that my message is too pro-Israel and too anti-Muslim’. Although TBN countered that it had ‘never been, and is not now against Israel and the Jewish people’,31 the damage was done. A Hal Lindsey Report is now available on Sundays, on the Angel One or the international Day Star networks – the latter featuring Benny Hinn’s and Dr John Hagee’s programmes too.† The birth of the Internet has boosted the spread of the Christian Zionist message far beyond individual churches and local communities. Its touch-of-a button global reach goes a long way towards explaining why * Named after a 1966 effort to raise $7,000 by asking 700 people to donate $10 a month. † Lindsey regained a slot on TBN in early 2007.

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the view that fundamentalist Christianity – so Christian Zionism too – is confined to the Southern Baptist ‘Bible Belt’ of the United States is out of date. The picture of bible-bashing preachers haranguing their congregations with Old Testament morality tales every Sunday, in every little church, in every tiny town in the South is certainly not a complete one. Like radio and television, the Internet has broken down the walls between the Church and the world, between the spiritual and the temporal. It has also enabled fundamentalists to insulate themselves from any information that does not tally with their world-view, and so has contributed in large measure to America’s ongoing ‘Culture Wars’. The websites of Hal Lindsey and Jan Markell, but also of Chuck Missler and a White House correspondent named Bill Koenig, sustain this parallel universe by operating their own news services. Chuck’s Koinonia House news service lists the ‘strategic trends’ he monitors as: the Struggle for Jerusalem, the Rise of Islam, Weapons Proliferation, the Magog Invasion, the Rise of the Far-East, the Rise of the European Super-state, Bio-tech and Global Pestilence, and the Decline of the United States. Bill Koenig’s service follows some of these developments and extras, such as the incidence of natural disasters, whose accelerated frequency has a bearing on the End Times. Hal Lindsey’s Oracle website – ‘politically incorrect, prophetically correct’ – is divided into seven categories: commentaries, America at war, Global Intelligence, Israel War Diary, Jerusalem Diary, US News and World News. Jan Markell is watching most of Chuck’s trends but has added ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Signs in Nature’ and ‘Spiritual Deception’ for good measure. Any eager watcher for the ‘signs of the times’ can log straight on to for a detailed assessment of how close we are to the Rapture. Advertising itself as the ‘Dow Jones of industrial averages of End Times activity’, the site monitors forty-five trends – all the above and more – and rates them on a scale of one to five according to current significance, before totting up a grand total to calculate the imminence of the Rapture. A record high of 182 was reached immediately after 9/11. In July 2006, at the start of the Israel–Hezbollah conflict, the site had 250,000 hits, up from 180,000 in June. On 7 August 2006, with war in the Middle East grabbing all the headlines, the Rapture Index stood at a thrilling 158. More actively committed Christian Zionists can peruse the websites of hundreds of different groups, offering various means – financial, touristic, spiritual, diplomatic, political – of ‘blessing Israel’ in her possession of the land God gave her. Unity Coalition for Israel and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews are the big American names in the field. International Christian Embassy and Christian Friends of Israeli


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Communities are also active in Europe, especially in traditional strongholds of Calvinist Protestantism – the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

The Christian sector of the American book trade is booming too. In 2003 it was 37 per cent up on 2002. While the mainstream book trade slowed and stagnated, it topped $2 billion in 2004, and rose again in 2005. Millenarians have had their own version of since 1996,, which offers nine hundred different items and links to 175 prophecy websites. Subject categories include: Antichrist, Armageddon, 666, Tribulation, Rapture, Millennium, Israel, Second Coming, Mark of the Beast ... All leading chains of US bookstores have far larger Christian sections than their counterparts in Europe, sections where the works of Christian Zionist writers are prominently displayed, often with the words ‘Armageddon’ or ‘Jerusalem’ in their titles. In the summer of 2006, sales of Pastor John Hagee’s ‘inspirational book’, Jerusalem Countdown, were hitting the 700,000 mark. A slightly higher-brow version of Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, it has a picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud on its cover, and the words: Iran’s president has said, ‘Israel must be wiped off from the map of the world.’ Iran’s nuclear arsenal is ready, and will impact the world as never before imagined. ... could this be the beginning of the end? Jerusalem Countdown hit the bookstores shortly before Israel embarked on its campaign to remove Iran-backed Hezbollah from southern Lebanon in July 2006; its success was never in doubt. Like Hal Lindsey, Hagee was basing many of his biblical insights on information received from anonymous, highly placed and well-informed Israelis: ‘I have been going to Israel regularly since 1978,’ he writes, ‘and over the years have developed a network of highly qualified and strategically placed confidential sources that have a very clear and certain focus on critical geopolitical developments in Israel and the Middle East.’ 32 He proceeds to a transcript of his telephone conversation with a ‘distinguished Israeli leader’ in May 2005. Hagee’s source tells him that Iran will have a nuclear weapon ‘in twelve to eighteen months’ and that ‘Israel received last week, with top secrecy, blockbuster bombs from the United States’.

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Pastor: ‘Do you believe that Israel will bomb Iran sometime between April 2006 and September of 2006?’ Source: ‘I believe so ...’ 33 Hagee very much hoped so. Like Chuck Missler, he is worried that Iran will turn its electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) against America, meaning the US will ‘cease to be a super-power in one billionth of a second’.34 Like Lindsey, he sees an Ezekiel 38–39 scenario taking shape – a Russia that has helped to nuclear-arm Iran, and a coalition of Muslim states, led by Iran, all coming against Israel in a dress rehearsal for Armageddon. He regrets to say that America won’t be intervening in this affray because ‘after America’s extended war in Iraq, the next administration will probably be Democratic and will withdraw from Iraq, vowing to stay out of the Middle East in future’.35 If Hagee is reading his Ezekiel right, the pre-Armageddon war he’d like to see triggered by a pre-emptive Israeli or US strike on Iran will leave 82 per cent of the ‘Russian axis of evil’ dead: ‘It’s no wonder the world will be stricken with shock and awe!’ he exclaims.36 Hagee doesn’t refer to the Rapture but otherwise sticks as closely to the basic millenarian narrative as Lindsey, by forecasting the rise of an Antichrist in the shape of ‘the head of the European Union’,37 who will offer Israel an illusory seven-year peace. He tells his readers to be alert for the moment when the Israelis are lulled into such a false sense of security that they even start dismantling the security barrier they’ve erected to protect themselves from Palestinian suicide bombers. His vision of the Battle of Armageddon is that of a mighty set-to between ‘The King of the East’, China, and the ‘King of the West’, the Antichrist, at the head of an army in which ‘doubtless America, Canada and the countries of South America, Australia and Europe will be represented’.38 Just as the message of The Late Great Planet Earth percolated up to the defence establishment and on, as far as Ronald Reagan and Menachem Begin in the 1970s, so there were signs that Hagee’s warning was being heeded in high American and Israeli places in July 2006. When the Republican presidential hopeful, Senator John McCain, and the Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, both told CNN’s Larry King Live they thought the Israel–Hezbollah clash could escalate into ‘World War III’,39 Israel’s Jerusalem Post reported Rabbi Benny Elon, a radical right-wing member of the Knesset, saying that such comments ‘originated’ in John Hagee’s Jerusalem Countdown.40 A hagiographic history of American Christian Zionism, penned by Pastor Hagee’s right-hand man in Washington, an American Jew


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named David Brog, appeared at almost the same moment as Jerusalem Countdown, with an endorsement by NAE president Pastor Ted Haggard, expressing a hope to see the book ‘on the shelf of every politician, pastor, journalist and student’ he knew. Geared to persuading Brog’s fellow Jews that Christian Zionists are trustworthy allies in the defence of Israel’s values, Brog’s Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State paints a far rosier view than this book is doing of the movement’s history and central tenets. ‘My curiosity about Christian Zionism stems from my years working on Capitol Hill,’ Brog’s book begins. ‘During this period I was privileged to meet a number of Christian Zionists who impressed me by their devotion to Israel and their apparent love of the Jewish people.’ 41 In a long chapter called ‘Christian Zionists in Washington’, he eagerly enlarges on the theme of the Christian Zionists’ political clout, pointing out that 9/11 chanced to happen when an ‘extraordinarily pro-Israel president’ was in the White House. ‘Bush consistently supported Israeli policy, even as dictated by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,’ he writes. ‘Yet on those limited occasions when the president appeared to pressure or criticize Israel, a newly energised and focused Christian Right leapt to Israel’s defense.’ 42 A few pages later he notes, ‘Given a [2004] re-election strategy that required an enthusiastic evangelical turnout, President Bush has certainly taken this constituency very seriously.’ 43 Brog goes so far as to claim Bush for the Christian Zionist camp by quoting a portion of a speech the president made to a Jewish audience: ‘I am a Christian, but I believe with the psalmist that the Lord God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Understanding my administration should not be difficult. We will speak up for our principles; we will stand up for our friends in the world. And one of the most important friends is the State of Israel.’ 44 The clue is in the juxtaposition of the ‘Lord God of Israel’ with the ‘State of Israel’. Brog begs his fellow Jews to recognise that ‘anti-Semitic Christians’ have been replaced in America by ‘Christian soldiers who passionately share their concerns’,45 but he fails to address the real reasons why most American Jews are uneasy about the tightening alliance between Jews and evangelicals, in spite of those Christians’ passionate love of Israel. The influence of Christian Zionism on George W. Bush’s White House will be discussed in more detail in Chapters 8 and 10, but it’s important to point out here that most Jews’ distrust of Christian Zionism is informed by

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several factors. First, there is Christianity’s hideous 2,000-year-old history of anti-Semitism to consider. Secondly, there is the crude simplicity of most Christian Zionists’ understanding of the Middle East, which results in the old embarrassment many Jews have felt from Dr Herzl onwards at hitching their fortunes to the playing out of a millenarian nightmare. Added to these is a still muted but mounting concern among liberal American Jews that their Jewish lobbying groups – the American–Israel Public Affairs Committee ( A I PAC ) * and others – are not faithfully representing their views in the corridors of Washington power, only the views of those who, like Christian Zionists, believe that a Greater Israel will preserve the Jewish homeland. In August 2006, Norman Birnbaum, an active Democrat, emeritus professor at Washington’s Georgetown University and member of the Nation magazine’s editorial board, complained: American Jewish citizens can be sure that a large number of Jewish organisations will claim to speak in our name – without being asked to do so. We can also be sure that should we dissent from the US Jewish community’s central item of faith, that Israel can do no wrong, we will be pilloried. When our gentile fellow citizens express doubt, they are accused of anti-Semitism. Those of us who are Jewish are taxed with self-hatred.46 By February the following year, he was repeating his protest in a piece titled ‘Israel on the Potomac: Power under Pressure’, for the online magazine openDemocracy. The problem here is that American Jewry has allowed itself to be represented by persons who in manner and personality resemble not the Nobel prizewinners, writers and thinkers of whom it has every reason to be proud, but an earlier generation’s formidable gangsters, who are not above descending to vulgar ethnocentrism for the sake of defending Israel.47 It was no surprise to discover that he identified these Jews’ ‘alliance with


AIPAC is the most powerful component of what is known as ‘the Jewish Lobby’. With an annual budget of $47 million, it has 200 staff, offices at the foot of Capitol Hill and 100,000 grass-roots members (Glenn Frankel, ‘A Beautiful Friendship?’, Washington Post, 16.7.2006).


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fundamentalist Protestants, whose bible literalism translates into uncritical support for Israel’ 48 as a main proof of their ‘vulgar ethno-centrism’. Finally, and perhaps most significantly of all, many Jews are keenly aware that the same people who claim to love Jews and Israel also hate everything that secular Jewry, liberal values and cosmopolitan intellectualism cherishes. They know that Christian Zionism is not another name for philo-Semitism, that in the eyes of Israel’s best friends on the Christian Right they are ‘the wrong kind of Jew’.

Sales of non-fiction works like John Hagee’s prophetic potboiler or David Brog’s purposeful defence of Christian Zionism are unlikely to rival those of much Christian Zionist fiction. The Christian TV mogul and champion of Israel, Pat Robertson, has found time in his immensely successful business career to pen a thriller named The End of the Age (1995). He sets his scene: with California devastated by a tsunami brought on by a falling meteor, and a Bill Clintonlike philandering president in the White House, ‘the unfolding panorama of horror was more than any human being could take in’.49 Levered into office by the president’s Hillary Clinton-like wife and an evil Muslim, another president steps up to handle the catastrophe. But a brave band of true believers recognises him as the Antichrist, in part because he is promising peace in the Middle East. Soon, President Antichrist is hopping aboard his personal jet to Tel Aviv and travelling on ‘by jet helicopter directly to the Temple Mount’,50 intent on forcing the Israelis to worship him. But faithful religious Jews rise up in protest and he has to make a speedy getaway, back to the airport. His mission on earth is clear: ‘from that moment on his over-riding passion became the destruction of Jerusalem and the subjugation of the Jewish people’.51 Robertson has a winning way with dialogue; a true believer gets to tell President Antichrist precisely what he thinks of him: ‘Listen to me, you snake-headed freak,’ he begins. ‘You’ve been a loser from the beginning. Jesus Christ is the winner, and I’m on His team. And, just for the record, I have eighteen Poseidon missiles aimed at the heart of Babylon at this minute. If you try to come after me, I’ll blow you back to Hell where you belong!’ 52 After an orgy of violent speech and action, a happy ending is secured by the descent of a 1,400-mile-long ‘shimmering space-craft’ 53 – the New Jerusalem of the Book of Revelation. This clumsy yoking of biblical imagery to scientific exactitude is a distinguishing mark of Christian Zionist literature, one that can be traced all the way back to Sir Henry Finch’s rendering of Israel’s biblical prosperity in

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terms of ‘dainties and iunketting dishes ... fat things and wine’.54 It is also a very striking feature of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s phenomenally successful Left Behind series, whose first volume appeared in the same year as The End of the Age. Another End Times techno-thriller, but told in twelve volumes, the Left Behind series has almost everything in common with Robertson’s tale: a persecuted group of true believers, an anti-Semitic Antichrist, starring roles for Jews, Jerusalem and Israel, plenty of technology and transport, Religious Right family values, global catastrophe, appalling violence, and a happy Bible-prophesied ending. The first book kicks off with the now famous depiction of the Rapture, as experienced by passengers on a 747 night flight to Chicago. Buck Cameron, a famous reporter, is woken by an old woman’s efforts to catch the attention of a passing pilot. ‘Trouble ma’am?’ Buck enquires. ‘It’s my Harold ... He’s gone,’ she tells him. ‘I’m sorry?’ asks Buck. ‘He’s disappeared!’ she says. Buck suggests her Harold must have ‘slipped off to the washroom’ 55 but soon, ‘all over the plane, people were holding up clothes and gasping or shrieking that someone was missing’.56 Buck racks his rational brain ‘for anything he had ever read, seen, or heard of any technology that could remove people from their clothes and make them disappear from a decidedly secure environment’.57 Buck, the woman and millions more all over the world find that their pious loved ones have been ‘Raptured’ up to heaven to be with Jesus, while they’ve been ‘left behind’. Before long, Buck, the pilot and the pilot’s student daughter have hooked up with a Chicago pastor who’s belatedly decoded the biblical signs of the times. All fervent biblebelieving Christians now, they band together in a ‘Trib Force’ to face the prophesied seven-year Tribulation before the Second Coming. The pastor warns them to watch out for the Antichrist, who duly appears, in the shape of Nicolae Carpathia, the plausible polyglot president of Romania. A Transylvanian, like Count Dracula, but as handsome as Robert Redford, Carpathia soon takes control of the United Nations, which he renames the ‘Global Community’, before moving its headquarters from New York to ‘New Babylon’, Iraq. Joined by a swiftly converted rabbi named Judah ben Tsion, the brave little Trib Force gathers strength in numbers, plus any amount of bugging and jamming equipment, high-tech weaponry, light aircraft and all-terrain vehicles. With God on their side too, the righteous few have everything they need to combat the evil Carpathia and his ‘GC’ minions. Along with the rest of the unbelieving world they weather the fulfilment of each of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation: war and bloodshed, famine and


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disease, pestilence and death, an earthquake, the incineration of a third of the planet, mountains plummeting into the sea, a destructive meteor, the extinguishing of the sun, moon and stars, a plague of locusts, the slaughter of a third of the world’s population, a plague of ‘foul and loathsome sores’, scorching by the sun, more pitch darkness, and the drying up of the River Euphrates. Their refusal to be branded on the forehead with Carpathia’s Mark of the Beast and their incessant skirmishing with faceless Global Security troops force them into an underground bunker settlement in San Diego, but eventually to a divinely protected sanctuary at Petra, in Jordan, where a million believers are instructed in the finer points of bible prophecy by Rabbi ben Tsion and divinely fed with biblical manna. ‘Almost like cookies, those sweet wafer things. And they’re so filling. I want more and yet I’ve had enough.’ ‘Imagine,’ Naomi said, ‘Everything we need for twenty-four hours comes in three helpings of this.’ 58 Violent martyrdoms of Trib Force members are regretted but scarcely mourned because their families and friends know they’ll shortly be resurrected, good as new, immediately after the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming. Antichrist Carpathia persecutes Jews for their Chosen status and their refusal to worship him in their Temple, and herds them into concentration camps, before laying out his grand plan for Armageddon. In a meeting with his deluded lieutenants, he explains, ‘The so-called Messiah loves the city of Jerusalem above all cities in the world ... Well, we shall see about that. ‘This strange affection for the Jews resulted in what he tells them is an eternal covenant of blessing. If we, the rulers of the earth, combine all our resources and attack the Jews, the son [Jesus] has to come to their defense. That is when we turn our sights on him and eliminate him. That will give us total control of the earth, and we will be ready to take on the father [God] for mastery of the universe.’ 59 But the elderly Rabbi ben Tsion is ready to take on Carpathia in the battle for Jerusalem. Determined to expunge the memory of his people’s passive suffering in the Holocaust, he sets out to prove himself a fighting Jew of the kind Josiah Wedgwood would have approved. After a little training he’s so handy with his Uzi, he boasts, ‘“I do not see how anyone

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can miss. It shoots so many bullets in so short a time, it’s like using a garden hose”.’ 60 Before heading off to war by helicopter, he gives a last bible class, with plenty of chapter and verse details about how the blood of the Antichrist’s allies will flow in the Plain of Jezreel which is ‘about one hundred and eighty-four miles’ long, and reach as high as the horses’ bridles – ‘four feet or more’.61 Once in Jerusalem, he finds hordes of proudly defiant Jews awaiting the Antichrist’s onslaught on their city. He seizes a last chance to save as many as he can by preaching to them at the Western Wall, treating them to the Christian Zionist line on the thorny question of the Jews’ need to recognise Jesus as their messiah: ‘When Jewish people such as yourselves come to see that Jesus is your long-sought Messiah,’ he said, ‘you are not converting from one religion to another, no matter what anyone tells you. You have found your Messiah, that is all. Some would say you have been completed, fulfilled ...’ 62 By the time the Battle of Armageddon is over – rendered in descriptions so gory that even ardent Left Behind fans have protested – and a whiteheaded, brass-footed Jesus has finally appeared – disappointing other fans with his more or less incessant quoting of bite-sized chunks of the Bible – the rabbi, Buck and his wife are all dead. Jesus embarks on a last orgy of vengeful killing; the Trib Force’s pilot, Rayford Steele, watches ‘through the binocs as men and women soldiers seemed to explode where they stood. It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.’ 63 Once the Antichrist and his chief henchmen have been hurled into a pit and their anguished roars heard all over Jerusalem, the Son of God can turn to the lighter work of welcoming back all who have died or been Raptured, and thanking the Trib Force, especially Rabbi ben Tsion. At last, the book’s heroes are blissfully reunited with resurrected grandparents, Raptured spouses and children and friends. Buck makes the acquaintance of his Raptured mother-in-law. ‘“So nice to meet you, finally,” he says, shaking her hand, “I’ve heard so much about you.”’ 64 Internet reviews of the last in the series, Glorious Appearing, ranged from the adulatory to the appalled – from ‘so true that many will be deceived into debunking it’, to a despairing ‘the popularity of this series is exactly why educated Europeans look at Americans with a sense of bewilderment and contempt.’


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The Left Behind series’ frequently unstable blend of bible prophecy, slapstick humour, miracles and romance, spiced with guns, gore and gizmos, has something to suit a great many Americans’ taste. By November 2005, a decade after the appearance of the first volume, sales of the series had topped the 60 million mark. Its authors claim to have shown some 3,000 lost souls the path to eternal salvation by their work. My tenth anniversary limited edition copy of the first book comes with a useful pull-out time-line of the Tribulation years, showing which period and which catastrophes each book covers, but also how each title fared in the best-seller lists. Left Behind (1995) spent eighty-four weeks on the New York Times list, Apollyon (1997) twenty weeks, Assassins (1999) thirty-nine, The Indwelling (2000) thirty-five, The Mark (2000) thirty-two. Desecration was the world’s best-selling novel of 2001. The last three volumes – The Remnant (2002), Armageddon (2003) and Glorious Appearing (2004) – were on the NYT list for an average of over twenty weeks each. The LaHaye–Jenkins writing partnership is the most lucrative the world has known, even before its multiple spin-offs – Left Behind for teenagers, Left Behind for the military, three prequels and at least one sequel, computer games, a website prophecy club, Holy Land tours, prophecy conferences, merchandise, and two not very successful films. The events of 11 September 2001 – not an explicitly prophesied ‘plot point’ in God’s schedule but almost as significant in the minds of Biblebelieving Americans as the birth of Israel in 1948 or the Six Day War in 1967 – sent sales of the Left Behind books into the stratosphere. Steady sales of half a million a month doubled after al-Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington. Asked by CNN if he thought 9/11 like a scene from his books, Jerry B. Jenkins admitted, ‘That really was one of my first reactions, and I’ve probably heard that every day from different readers ... it even made some of my own fiction more realistic to me.’ 65 Hal Lindsey had watched his book sales rocket by 83 per cent when the outbreak of the first Gulf War in 1991 encouraged speculation that Saddam was the Antichrist, building himself a New Babylon, but in the year of 9/11 LaHaye and Jenkins’s Desecration sold more copies than any other book in the world. Pastors all over America were reporting 20 per cent leaps in attendance figures if they preached on the Apocalypse. Time magazine reported a bewildered Manhattan minister saying, ‘I would go for years without anyone asking about the End Times ... But since Sept 11, hard core, crusty, cynical New York lawyers and stockbrokers who are not moved by anything are saying “Is the world going to end? Are all the events of the Bible coming true?” They want to get right with God. I’ve never seen

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anything like it in my thirty years of ministry.’ 66 The Left Behind books have been popular reading for US forces stationed in Iraq since 2003. Four years on from 9/11, a panicky instability brought on by reading one of the series was being cited as a reason why a New Hampshire mother of three might have abducted her own children. My Holy Land tour room-mate Melissa had not had time to read the series herself, but two of her siblings owned Left Behind box sets. The world that LaHaye and Jenkins, and Robertson and others have conjured up in a genre now known as ‘apocalypterature’ is one in which true Christians are required to fight, kill, suffer and even die for their faith. As such, it springs from a Manichaean mind-set better suited to dissidents in a totalitarian society than to citizens of one of the most open and tolerant societies in the world. Perhaps a key to understanding the Left Behind phenomenon lies in precisely that tolerance. An acquaintance, a Texan Roman Catholic living in Jerusalem, once explained to me that minds steeped in such literature reduce the agonising moral ambiguities of the Middle East conflict to a divinely ordained powwow between Good Jews and Evil Muslims: ‘You have to understand, they see everything going on here as so exciting – so meaningful,’ he told me. ‘Life in much of middle America is incredibly boring ...’ Other commentators have drawn different but equally sobering lessons from the phenomenal popularity of the series. Some have pointed out that, thanks to such fiction, the traditional Christian view of gentle Jesus, meek and mild is swiftly being replaced in the popular imagination by macho messiah, victorious and vengeful – a Jesus modelled on the God of the Jewish Old Testament. One appalled observer laments the rise of this ‘tougher, meaner Jesus, a government-issue (GI-Joe), who comes complete with state of the art Kevlar tunic, two-edged sword and secret code-book – the Book of Revelation’.67 But the president of the powerful NAE has firmly endorsed the warrior Jesus. ‘The fear of God is a worthy emotion,’ Pastor Ted Haggard told the New York Times, a useful corrective to the old ‘effeminate Jesus’ who, he claimed, has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Gospels.68 A 2006 poll found that a majority, 31 per cent, of Americans believed in an authoritarian, rather than a benevolent, a critical or a distant God. Such Christians were more likely than others to support the war in Iraq, trust President Bush ‘a lot’ and advocate more military spending.69 The eminent author and journalist Joan Didion has woven a powerful critique of the Left Behind series around a still more powerful one of President George W. Bush’s presidency. After issuing a stark warning that the Left Behind story is ‘the kind of dream that can be put to political


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use, and can also entrap those who would use it’, she suggests that Bush, a ‘fundamentalist’, is just the sort of person to fall into the trap. Didion explains that problems arise ‘in letting this kind of personality loose on the fragile web of unseen alliances and unspoken enmities that constitutes any powerful nation’s map of the world’, because ‘the fundamentalist approach to information does not encourage nuanced judgments’.70 Didion also described the Left Behind narrative as a dream of the ‘unempowered’, in which an empowered macho Jesus and his equally empowered Christian Right soldiers take a terrible revenge on all their enemies – the Antichrist, Democrats, liberal theologians, Muslims, Darwinians, the United Nations, secular Europe, et al. That word, ‘unempowered’, carries echoes that reverberate all the way back to the angrily embattled, anti-intellectual roots of Christian fundamentalism in mid-nineteenth-century America. Tim LaHaye, the prophecy expert half of the Left Behind writing duo, sits squarely in that old fundamentalist tradition: ‘Those millions that I’m trying to reach take the Bible literally,’ he told Newsweek in 2004. ‘It’s the theologians that get all fouled up on some of these smug ideas that you’ve got to find some theological reason behind it. It bugs me that intellectuals look down their noses at we ordinary people.’ 71 LaHaye’s aggrieved, ‘unempowered’ tone is astonishing when one considers the amount of not just literary and financial, but political, power he’s been wielding since the late 1970s. In 2001 the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals voted him, rather than Billy Graham, America’s most influential Christian leader of the past quarter-century. If Hal Lindsey is the ‘Father of the Modern Prophecy Movement’ then Tim LaHaye can lay claim to the title ‘Father of the Modern Religious Right’, a phenomenon I will examine in later chapters and whose foreign policy is predicated on Christian Zionism.

One author deserves substantial credit for popularising this foreign policy and therefore the right-wing Israeli agenda in the Middle East in fictional form. A youthful Jewish convert to Christianity, best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg has been challenging Hal Lindsey’s supremacy in the field of prophecy interpretation since the mid-1990s. I first encountered Rosenberg’s 2005 hit, The Ezekiel Option, published by Tyndale, like the Left Behind books, handsomely displayed in the Christian bookshop at the Colorado Springs headquarters of that fortress of Religious Right values, Focus on the Family. Its jacket informed me that Rosenberg’s previous best-sellers

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– The Last Jihad and The Last Days – had uncannily prophesied a 9/11 scenario,* a war against Iraq and the death of Arafat. A fulsome endorsement from Tim LaHaye – ‘an exciting actionpacked thriller based on one of the most important end-times prophecies’ – promised as much again for the Ezekiel Option, but more interesting was the author biography on the back flap. Before trying his hand at Christian fiction, Rosenberg worked as ‘communications strategist’ for a hero of the Religious Right – the king of conservative talk-radio, Rush Limbaugh – but also for two eminent right-wing Israeli politicians, ex-deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky and ex-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It would be hard to conceive of a cleverer way of communicating the right-wing Israeli agenda than by packaging it as apocalypterature. Far better written and more satisfyingly complex than the Left Behind books, The Ezekiel Option does just that. Sharansky highly recommends both the author and his work: ‘Joel C. Rosenberg is a masterful storyteller, a true friend of Israel and of the Jewish people. He understands the real problems and threats in the Middle East better than any American novelist I know and turns it into a chilling, prescient and unforgettable read,’ says the book jacket. The Ezekiel Option contains most of the familiar vital ingredients: a starring role for Israel and Jews, bible prophecy, high-tech, hints of a European Antichrist, violence, bad Muslims, and lines like ‘Evil was regrouping. Something else was coming, something catastrophic.’ 72 But, unlike LaHaye and Jenkins, Rosenberg has located his saga in a recognisably contemporary setting and blurred the boundaries between fact and fiction so artfully that any reader not perfectly versed in both Russian and Middle Eastern politics stands little chance of separating the two. His motivation is as explicitly didactic as LaHaye’s and at least as much political as theological. Rosenberg claims to be writing for people ‘anxious about the Middle East’ but reluctant to learn about it by reading ‘900-page history books’.73 Rosenberg’s post-Soviet Russia is an evil place, still ‘cursing’ the Jews as it did in Tsarist and Soviet times and allied to an equally evil Iran, which borders a post-Saddam Iraq, which is peaceful and prospering following western intervention but also ominously – for those who can read the End Times signs – engaged in rebuilding Babylon. The European Community, *

The New York Times, 15.11.2003, summarised the plot of The Last Jihad (2002): it ‘begins with a suicide pilot crashing his private plane into the president’s motorcade and ends with that president saying a silent prayer as the nuclear bombs he ordered are dropped on Iraq’.


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which backs evil Russia’s suggestion that Israel help bring peace to the Middle East by surrendering its nuclear weapons, is ‘a waste of time’.74 Only America and Israel are good and, by the end, only Israel, because ‘too many in the American intelligence establishment had a Western, modern secular mind-set’.75 In part thanks to Tim LaHaye, the word ‘secular’ is now as pejorative as the words ‘liberal’, ‘humanist’, ‘Democrat’ or ‘relativist’ in the lexicon of the Religious Right. The true hero of Rosenberg’s book, a retired chief of Mossad named Dr Eliezer Mordechai, has a different mind-set. A Jewish convert to Christianity and an expert decoder of bible prophecy, Dr Mordechai is the only man alive who has the tools to figure out what’s really going on: He was now convinced the ancient prophecies were, in fact, coming true before their very eyes ... He needed to understand the signs, the timing, the sequence of events that would climax in the Rapture of the church, the rise of the Antichrist, and the beginning of the Tribulation.76 Referring to big names in prophecy like the Scofield Reference Bible, to Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey, the fictional Dr Mordechai uses Lindsey’s and Dr John Hagee’s current hobby-horse – Ezekiel 38 and 39 – and the same kind of biblical arithmetic the Jewish kabbalists and seventeenthcentury Thomas Brightman and Reverend William Hechler used in order to convince the fictional Jon Bennett, a senior adviser to the US president and a Christian, that America mustn’t demand the nuclear disarmament of Israel. Rosenberg has Israel responding to the threat of her nuclear disarmament with a threat of its own, to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against her enemies. Divine intervention – a prophesied rain of brimstone over Moscow and her Muslim allies – secures Israel’s survival in the end. The American president gets to voice the italicised moral of the story, a moral he long ago learned from Dr Mordechai: ‘To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it ... An evil unchecked is the prelude to genocide.’ 77 Like Pastor Hagee’s, Rosenberg’s word was reaching high places in the summer of 2006, in his case via an appearance on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club programme to promote his fourth blockbuster, about Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. After agreeing that the fulfilment of Ezekiel’s predictions ‘is getting closer’ (‘No question about it,’ said Robertson, ‘I’ve been looking at it for decades’) and that a restored Babylon will be the headquarters of the Antichrist (‘I had a book called The End of the Age’, said Robertson ‘and I had it set in Babylon and that’s just where it’s got to be’) and that

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this prophesied war could herald ‘the end of radical Islam as we know it’, Rosenberg dropped a bombshell. ‘I’ve been invited to the White House and Capitol Hill and the CIA a few weeks ago,’ he said. ‘It’s not that all those folks are believing that the prophecies are coming true, but they want to understand the evangelical perspective on the Middle East, and particularly the prophecies.’ Robertson neglected to follow up this startling lead. Instead, he and Rosenberg went on agreeing that the ‘signs’ were piling up towards catastrophe: Robertson: There’ll be a huge explosion before it’s finished, I mean fire from heaven. It’s going to be horrible! Rosenberg: It’s hard to imagine, living in a time when prophecy is really coming true.78 Fortunately, a columnist for the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin, was alarmed enough by Rosenberg’s startling boast to call him up and question him further about his White House connections. Froomkin learned that on 10 February 2005 Rosenberg was invited to a ‘White House bible study group’ to talk to a ‘“couple dozen” White House aides’ about ‘current events and biblical prophecy’. Rosenberg could not reveal either the identity of those aides or the details of their discussion, and nor could he claim they all ‘believe that prophecy can help you understand what will happen next in the Middle East’ but, he added, ‘I’m not surprised that they’re intrigued’. Froomkin extracted another detail: Rosenberg told him that a White House staffer had called him in 2005 to say, ‘A lot of people over here are reading your novels, and they’re intrigued that these things keep on happening ... Your novels keep on foreshadowing actual coming events ... And so we’re curious, how are you doing it? What’s the secret? Why don’t you come over and walk through the story behind these novels.’ Christian Zionist writers like Tim LaHaye and Joel C. Rosenberg have modelled themselves on the Old Testament prophets, awarding themselves a licence to speak what they see as the Bible’s truth. Pastor Hagee in San Antonio is another shining example of the phenomenon, but novelists can serve the same purpose, and more effectively. As Israel and Hezbollah battled in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Rosenberg’s blog informed his fans that he’d been interviewed over sixty times in the past fortnight, for radio, television and print, about ‘whether the events we’re watching play out in the Middle East were foretold by the biblical prophets and what we should be looking to see happen


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next’. On two successive days in the week following the ceasefire, Fox News – favoured by American conservatives in general and the Religious Right in particular, over any other news channel – interviewed both Pastor Hagee and Rosenberg. Neither was introduced as a believer in bible prophecy or as a Christian fundamentalist, let alone as a Christian Zionist. Hagee confidently prophesied that the peace would be short-lived: ‘I believe that this next round will be more severe, more aggressive, and the moment that Israel determines that Iran has nuclear capability or buys a nuclear weapon from North Korea that they will bomb the nuclear facilities in Iran, or go after Iran. And then it’s going to become intense in the Middle East ... Make no mistake, Iran will use nuclear weapons against the United States of America.’ 79 The next day Fox News billed Rosenberg as a best-selling novelist and ‘Middle East analyst’. Rosenberg’s prophesying highlighted the extent to which the mind-set of an American Christian fundamentalist resembles that of its Islamic counterpart. ‘People don’t appreciate yet, particularly in the media ... don’t appreciate or don’t understand the evil that is rising in Iran, and that’s what I’m trying to write about in my novels ... the religious, end-of-the-world, apocalyptic mind-set that Ahmadinejad has. You can’t negotiate with someone, ultimately, who believes it’s his mission to end the world.’ 80 A few days later, even CNN turned prophecy-mad. Its Live From ... news programme carried a nine-minute prophecy chat with Rosenberg and Tim LaHaye’s co-author, Jerry B. Jenkins. It left the show’s presenter feeling just as early nineteenth-century English witnesses of Edward Irving’s sermons did. ‘You both scare me, but you both fascinate me. Gentlemen, thank you so much,’ she said.81

chapter 8

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’

The little traffic there is in Lynchburg, Virginia, on this bright Sunday morning is all heading up a back street, straight into a heavy jam around two large parking lots serving Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church. Anyone can see that America’s best-known Christian Zionist has outgrown the site, just as anyone headed for Falwell’s fundamentalist Christian Liberty University on the edge of town can see that God will shortly be blessing him with a gigantic new church – a 6,000-seater measuring a million square feet. In this age of the mega-church – minimum 2,000 members – Thomas Road is a quaint anachronism but it makes a fine neo-classical setting for a Christian television network’s cameras to capture, panning round pews packed with a few hundred worshippers in their Sunday best. The Reverend Dr Falwell is such a mighty man, such a huge presence in his businesslike dark suit, tie and white shirt, that he shrinks the space to the size of a living room. We are his family, so the atmosphere is intimate. In this fiftieth anniversary year of the church, he fondly recalls his twentytwo-year-old self, the keen young pastor who rented an old fizzy-pop plant on this site for $65 a week, for a congregation of just thirty-five. ‘We serve a miracle-working God!’ he exclaims. And it’s not just a figure of speech. When he needed $5 million to finish building his 4,400-acre university campus in 1970, he turned to the Old Testament for fund-raising advice. Likening Liberty’s ‘high walls of bills and unfinished buildings’ 1 to the impregnable walls of ancient Jericho, Falwell told his flock that he would do just as God had commanded the besieging ancient Israelites to do. They had circled Jericho every day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day, playing their trumpets and carrying the Ark of the Covenant, before gaining entrance to the city. He, Falwell, would drive the 11.3 miles around Liberty Mountain every day for a week, praying all the way, putting in the


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same extra mileage on Sunday, in order to complete his building. The stunt raised not $5 but $7 million. With his flock numbering 24,000 today, and with almost 10,000 students at Liberty and a variety of other educational, media and charity projects on the go, Falwell informs us that his Christian business empire is turning over $200 million a year. The congregation gasps in shock and awe. Falwell beams; he has reason to feel smug. The future of the Religious Right looks secured by institutions like Liberty University and his own life’s work is guaranteed an afterlife: his two sons are in line to inherit everything so Liberty will remain a stronghold of Christian Zionism. Falwell likes his preaching to be practical, topical. Within a few days of Ariel Sharon’s election as prime minister in February 2001, for example, his theme was ‘Israel, Ariel Sharon and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ’. He began with the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of a valley strewn with dry bones coming to life again as ‘an exceeding great army’ of Jews, restored to their ‘own land’.2 Referring to the same Bible text Hal Lindsey used in The Late Great Planet Earth and Joel C. Rosenberg would return to in The Ezekiel Option, Falwell forecast that the Jews would only be cured of their ‘spiritual blindness’ regarding the identity of their messiah after an attack by an axis of evil led by a coalition of Russia, Iran and other Muslim states. When will [that war] happen? Only God knows. But it will happen! When it does, we as a nation better make sure we’re on the right side. Supporting Israel is not an option. It is a divine command. America is the best friend Israel has. In particular, born-again evangelical Christians are the strongest supporters of Israel I know. The Jerusalem Post cover has a picture of me this week, saying ‘Israel’s best friend’.3 Like Chuck Missler, Falwell believes that America’s survival depends on ‘blessing’ Israel: ‘If we fail to protect Israel, we will cease to be important to God,’ he has warned.4 His thought for this Sunday morning five years later, his theme in the long shadow of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, is ‘Why do bad things happen to us? Is God mad at us?’ Famous reporters – Wolf Blitzer of CNN, for example – have been posing him such questions; all he can say is, Jesus ‘certainly is drawing us to himself’ in readiness for the Rapture. ‘This is the most dangerous hour the world has ever known,’ he continues. ‘At least with the Cold War there were rational men in control of the nuclear arsenals. Today the men and women who would kill you don’t mind being killed in the process. There’s nothing to stop anyone walking into this

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church with a bomb strapped around his or her waist ...’ Falwell must live in fear of just such an interruption. In 2002, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded to Falwell’s assertion that Muhammad was ‘a terrorist’ by declaring his death ‘a religious duty’.5 This morning, his riposte to that fatwa is a defiant, ‘I’m bullet-proof until I’ve finished the work God wants me to do.’ His message is not all scary. He tells a cruelly funny political joke against a domestic foe: Democrat presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton. While on a visit to a school to speak to pupils about current events, Hillary is bombarded with questions. A bright boy called Kenneth asks her three: (1.) What happened to Medicare? (2.) Why are you running for office when your husband shamed it? (3.) What did you do with all those things you took from the White House? Just then the bell goes for recess. A relieved Hillary promises to answer Kenneth after the break. Recess over, another child poses the same three questions and two more: (1.) Why did the recess bell go? (2.) What happened to Kenneth? The church erupts in laughter, cheers and Amens! I imagine that if this jocular Falwell were to repeat some of his more vicious public pronouncements here – ‘I think Muhammad was a terrorist’,6 for example, or his blaming of 9/11 on ‘the pagans, and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians’ 7 – few would object. But the gun-slinging style of Christian Zionist men of God like Falwell, Lindsey and Robertson, the swaggering, saloon bar judgments that go down such a storm with their fans, are ever more dangerous in this era of heightened religious tension and instant communication. No nation, not even a superpower, is an island; a stray boast or a snappy sound-bite can be amplified and exploited, used and misused. What is ignorable in the vast cacophonous variety of America can cost lives in the Middle East. If Australia or Iceland were the object of Christian Zionists’ worship, it would not matter so much. But Israel is what and where it is: a nuclear power effectively planted by the West in a Muslim heartland. If no one noted either Chuck Missler’s casting of Hamas-supporting Palestinians as the biblical Edomites who had to be ‘slaughtered’, or heard Hal Lindsey’s call to ‘obliterate’ Syria, eight people died in Muslim–Hindu riots at Solapur in south-west India after Falwell’s televised insult to the Prophet. Falwell the affable family man rounds off the service by telling us he’s looking forward to spending most of this beautiful autumn day not far from town at a gigantic Falwell clan reunion in the house where he was born, but will be back at work here this evening, performing a few baptisms.


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Baptism is hard, manual work. Dr Falwell is standing waist-deep in a pool set high into the wall above the choir, dunking a succession of nineteen children in antiseptic green water. Each child has to be helped or lifted out of the pool, born again and spluttering, to be clapped and congratulated. The mood is even more convivial and intimate than it was this morning. Falwell knows many of the children by name and recalls baptising their parents. The process is a long and repetitive one, throughout which the child sitting next to me patiently draws the flaming summit of a red mountain, and labels it ‘God is my Volcano!’ Done at last, a weary Falwell hands over to his younger friend, Dr Ed Hindson, who is Professor of Old Testament Studies and Eschatology at Liberty University, the author of some twenty works with titles like Is the Anti-Christ Alive and Well? and End Times, the Middle East and the New World Order, and host of the weekly TBN show The King is Coming. Dr Hindson will preach to us this evening from his favourite Book of Samuel, about David and Goliath. A noisy but gifted speaker, he brings the millennia-old tale of the little Jewish boy’s victory over the gigantic Philistine alive by shrinking the distance between the ancient Israelites and the modern Israelis to precisely nothing. This is the Bible come as vividly alive as it ever did for seventeenth-century Englishmen; this is ancient Jewish myth-history retold as a current Israeli affair, and the child beside me is gripped. ‘The whole existence of Israel is at stake,’ is how Hindson begins, in the dramatic present tense, in the very words Israeli politicians use today when justifying a ‘disproportionate use of force’ against the Palestinians or Lebanese. The Israelis’, as he calls them, big battle to push the Philistines out of their land is about to begin in a valley 15 miles from Bethlehem; ‘I was standing right there in May this year,’ says Hindson. Israel’s defeat will mean losing, not just their King Saul, but the bloodline of the messiah himself. While the enemy Philistines have their Goliath who’s ‘about nine foot tall and 600 pounds in weight’, Israel’s King Saul is ‘not a real champion, not a man of faith’, simply not man enough to take Goliath on. For forty days already Goliath has been challenging the Israelis morning and night. ‘Just imagine,’ says Hindson, ‘you’re an Israeli soldier – you’re having your breakfast of lox and bagel and you see this guy ...’ The scene in the valley set, Hindson switches to Bethlehem, to David, ‘a seventeen-year-old senior at Bethlehem High’, who helps his father Jesse out with herding sheep. With two sons serving in the Israeli army, old Jesse is wondering how the battle’s going. ‘I can’t get it on CNN and I haven’t read anything about in the paper recently,’ he complains, before

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


packing David some sandwiches and ordering him to go and find out. David ‘jumps into his father’s carriage, puts the thing in reverse, gets on the Jerusalem expressway and takes the exit marked “Battle”’. By the time he arrives the conflict is heating up – ‘This would be the equivalent of Star Wars for David, I can just see him shouting, “Yeah! Go Israel!”’ Hindson enthuses. David finds his brothers and swiftly decides that he will be the one to take on Goliath for Israel. One of his brothers mocks him, tells him he’ll get in trouble with their father, but David is determined. He’s already had experience with his sling, seeing off a lion and a bear that attacked the family flock. Hindson digresses a moment for a lesson in the mechanics of using a sling. When young David releases his stone, like an ‘underhand fast-pitched softball’, it hits Goliath right between the eyes and knocks him dead. The plucky little victor chops off the giant’s head. One moral of the story – ‘God’s on Israel’s side’ – needs no restating for this audience. Hindson’s moral – ‘Jesus Christ is the champion of our army. He’s the only one who puts the enemy to flight’ – is another. The evening ends on a high note, with the recruitment of new troops to Christ’s army. ‘Hands up if convicted, challenged tonight!’ Falwell commands. A dozen, mostly men, answer the call-up, making their way to the front of the church to receive his blessing. A swelling of appropriate mood music accompanies Falwell’s final ‘The spirit of the Lord has spoken to your hearts right now ...’

By 8.30 the following morning, I’ve driven up to Liberty University, noticed a bright new sports cum leisure complex donated by Tim LaHaye, admired the neo-classical façade of the university’s main building, and asked some wholesome-looking students the way to a lecture hall. Reverend Falwell is too busy with start-of-term activities to see me but Dr Tommy Ice, a regular on the prophecy conference circuit, a close collaborator and now employee of Tim LaHaye, and director of his PreTrib Research Center, here at Liberty,* has suggested that I attend a service for the university staff, at which he will be giving a talk on prophecy. I’m curious to see a person whom someone in Minneapolis recommended as ‘a

* LaHaye’s $4.5 million donation to Liberty University in 2002 covers Dr Ice’s salary at Liberty. Pre-Trib denotes a belief that the Rapture must occur before the seven-year period of the Jews’ Tribulation. Most American Christian Zionists are Pre-Tribbers because it offers an escape from the Time of Tribulation, but there are a few Mid-Tribbers and Post-Tribbers.


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real Texan – cowboy boots and all’, and who’s been signing off his emails to me with ‘Maranatha’ (Aramaic for ‘The Lord cometh!’), the title of James H. Brookes’s nineteenth-century bestseller on bible prophecy. Sporting nothing more exotic than a crumpled grey suit, Dr Ice is setting up his power-point presentation. The words already projected on the wall behind his head read israel – god’s super-sign of the end times. In the row behind me two staff members are discussing Israel: ‘The point is, that land’s of no value right now, without a king,’ says one. ‘Right. They’re not accepting him yet,’ says the other. Decoded, this exchange suggests that if some of the most literal-minded fundamentalists want prophecy fulfilled in the shape of a Jewish monarch, just as Sir Henry Finch envisaged, there are others still hoping for a mass conversion of the Jews to Christianity, just as most seventeenth-century Protestants were. The hall slowly fills and the event kicks off with a hymn, sung as a faltering duet by two members of staff, with a third on the piano. ‘We’re marching, marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion, We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God ...’ Dr Ice raises the tone with an opening prophecy by Sir Isaac Newton, about how, near ‘the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up’ who will look into ‘the literal truth of the prophecies’ and find that most of them concern the Jews and their land. Ice points out that a third of all United Nations resolutions have also concerned Israel and her land, all of them negative, except for the first endorsing its creation in 1948. But where can we see the fulfilment of prophecy today, ‘except in relation to the land of Israel?’ he asks. The screen behind him is now showing a colourful pre-millennial dispensationalist time-line. The Restoration of the Jews and their Tribulation are clearly marked, and the Rapture is a grey cloud from which Jesus and a righteous few are waving. As Dr Ice continues I sense that most of this audience is having as much trouble following his exposition as I am, the more so when a technical glitch sends his power-point images scrolling wildly up and down, too fast to glimpse let alone study. Someone behind me whispers, ‘I think it’s possessed!’ It’s time for a question and answer session. Not everyone in this stronghold of Christian fundamentalism sets as much store by bible prophecy as Dr Ice, it seems. ‘Why should we take all these as long-term prophecies rather than as relating to the era in which they were written?’ asks one member of staff, voicing most theologians’ view. ‘OK, we all know about blessing and cursing Israel, but does that mean Israel right or wrong?’ queries another. ‘I don’t know how we can always support Israel when the Israelis are so divided amongst themselves,’ quibbles a third. But,

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


to judge by the group of excited men who cluster around Dr Ice as soon as the session is over, plenty are tuned to his wavelength. He invites me to his Pre-Trib Research Center for further discussion. Temporarily housed in two windowless rooms, it strikes me as cramped for such a grand title, for such a large man. Reading my mind, he apologises, ‘I just moved here from Washington, where we had a room in Beverly LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America offices – I’m not really set up here yet and anyway, I’ll be moving somewhere grander shortly.’ Beverly LaHaye is Tim LaHaye’s wife. Her organisation is a Religious Right lobby group. At such close quarters, I notice Dr Ice is wearing a discreet lapel pin: twinned Israeli and American flags. A Texan Southern Baptist, Ice had what he calls his ‘Jesus moment’ at college, after reading Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth and hearing a sermon about the Rapture. At Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) – Hal Lindsey’s alma mater which was founded by one of Dr Cyrus I. Scofield’s disciples in 1924 – Ice took a four-year degree, which included Greek and Hebrew. ‘DTS was considered very academically rigorous back then,’ he says wistfully. ‘After World War Two all the Bible colleges and seminaries were pro-Israel, but DTS has changed recently. It’s using the Higher Critical stuff to argue against what the text is really saying now. A lot of academics are going for the anti-supernatural interpretative approach these days,’ he adds dolefully, blaming the Enlightenment. But all is not lost. While too many of the younger generation are too open to the ‘let’s shed a few tears for the Palestinians’ line in Dr Ice’s opinion, all three of his sons are fervently pro-Israel. Two are studying here at Liberty with a view to becoming pastors. One heads the university’s Israel Club, established a year ago at the instigation of AIPAC, as part of its drive to build up support for Israel in Christian places of learning; AIPAC is a powerful centrepiece of what many refer to as the Jewish or Israel Lobby. Ice would rather the club was sponsored by the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA): ‘AIPAC is too prepared to work with whatever Israeli government’s in power, right or left. The ZOA would be safer, more right-wing,’ he says. Glancing around the small room, I ask him what the Pre-Trib Research Center does. He writes articles, he says, talks to the media, runs a website and teaches a class in prophecy to graduate students of Liberty’s theological seminary. He also organises two- or three-day get-togethers of the Pre-Trib Study Group – a club of around 300 ‘top prophecy scholars, authors and populists’ – in a hotel near Dallas airport every year. Modelled on the Albury Park and Powerscourt conferences in Britain of the late 1820s and early 1830s, the group was Tim LaHaye’s idea and is now in its fifteenth


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year. Chuck Missler is a regular attender. Dr Ice knows all the big names in the field. Not for the first time I’m struck by the interconnectedness of this small army of bible prophecy experts whose mental landscapes bear such an uncannily close resemblance to those of seventeenth-century Puritans. Dr Ice can dismiss Missler as a ‘wacko’, Dr John Hagee as a ‘heretic’, Falwell as ‘winsome’ but inclined to make ‘stupid comments’, and even some of LaHaye’s ‘positions’ as suspect. But these men are all united where it counts and there’s nothing complicated about their basic creed. All are uncommonly interested in the sources of power in the world – natural and supernatural – and in the battle between Good and Evil. All agree that we are on the verge of the End Times in which Jews and their land have a crucial part to play. And, firmly planted in the camp of the Religious Right, they’re all actively engaged in bolstering the most radical right wing of Israel’s political spectrum. The fact that these men of God – most are in some form of Christian ministry – are obsessed with the defence and intelligence agenda of a country that’s not their own is bizarre, but not hugely significant if not for another fact: their influence on American politics. In order to understand precisely how, for the first time in the long history of the movement, millenarian Christian Zionists come to be playing an active role in American and Israeli politics, we first need to go back and examine when and why Revd Jerry Falwell, Revd Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson embarked on the wider project of reinstating the JudaeoChristian value system America was born with in the Puritan seventeenth century. We need to look at the rise of the Religious Right, the wider phenomenon of which Christian Zionism is only one aspect.

Throughout the 1960s Falwell had noisily opposed mixing religion and politics: ‘preachers are not called to be politicians but to be soul-winners’ 8 was his line. But by the late 1970s he had executed a 180-degree turn and was urgently recommending the reverse. An originally Presbyterian theologian from Pennsylvania, Francis Schaeffer, supplied much of the vital intellectual underpinning for what became a revolution first in fundamentalist Christian behaviour and then in the wider evangelical community, leading to the formation of what is known today as the Religious Right. Since the late 1970s a large proportion of white American Protestants have been battling to rescue their country from what they judge to be its state of terminal liberal decay by throwing themselves into the political fray on the side of the conservative Republican Party. By 2004, white evangelicals made up almost a quarter of the electorate,

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


and 74 per cent of them were voting Republican. That percentage slipped in the mid-term elections of 2006, but only by four points.9 Described by Craig Unger in Vanity Fair as ‘probably the most important religious figure that secular America has never heard of’,10 Francis Schaeffer had been galvanised into outraged action by the legalisation of abortion in 1973. For him, the famous Roe versus Wade case was the final straw, after a decade that had seen campus rebellions, an explosion of sexual activity and the removal of God from the classroom. Denouncing the ‘tyranny’ of a society in thrall to ‘secular humanist’ values, a society mortally sinning by making Man rather than God ‘the measure of all things’,11 it was Schaeffer who prodded Falwell into politics. Falwell has recalled that Schaeffer showed him he had ‘a responsibility to confront that [secular humanist] culture where it was failing morally and socially’.12 Schaeffer reasoned that since the democratically elected government of America had forfeited its legitimacy by succumbing to the lure of godless materialism, Christians had a ‘duty to revolt’.13 And he hammered home his point by drawing an unflattering comparison between America and another tyranny. ‘A true Christian in Hitler’s Germany and in the occupied countries [of Europe] should have defied the false and counterfeit state and hidden his Jewish neighbours from the German SS troops. The government had abrogated its authority, and it had no right to make any demands.’ 14 To any defender of the First Amendment’s exlusion of religion from the political sphere, Schaeffer had this to say: ‘We must absolutely set out to smash the lie of the new and novel concept of the separation of religion from the state ... It has no relationship to the meaning of the First Amendment. The First Amendment was that the state would never interfere with religion. that’s all the meaning there was to the first amendment.’ 15 Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto (1981) sold 290,000 copies in the year in which Falwell painted political engagement as a crucial military engagement, an endeavour as noble and justified as a medieval crusade, a First World War battle or the Vietnam War: The church should be a disciplined, charging army. Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions ... ultimately some marines have to march in, encounter the enemy face-to-face, and put the flag up ... I’m speaking of marines who have been called by God to move in past the shelling, the bombing and the foxholes, and with bayonets in hand, encounter the enemy face to face and, one on one, bring them under submission to the gospel of Christ, move them into the household of God, put up the flag, and call it secured.16


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Two years earlier Tim LaHaye, then a Baptist pastor in San Diego, California, had dedicated his runaway best-seller, The Battle for the Mind , * to Schaeffer. A punchy broadside against secular humanism, the book translated Schaeffer’s thesis into terms the uneducated man in the street could grasp. Secular humanism, LaHaye wrote, was ‘the world’s greatest evil’,17 ‘the most dangerous religion in the world’,18 and the cause of all America’s ills. The acceptance of homosexuality and abortion, the sexual revolution, drugs and crime were all the fault of secular humanism, he claimed. Secular humanists were ‘one-worlders first and Americans second’ 19 so they supported the United Nations, voted to give away the Panama Canal and lost America the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Secular humanists in Democrat President Jimmy Carter’s administration had been imposing high taxes in order to lead America ‘down the road to a socialist Sodom and Gomorrah’.20 Secular humanists taught evolution, ‘the biggest hoax of the 19th and 20th century’,21 and so on. The only hope was a wholesale return to Judaeo-Christian values,† because ‘Christians and Jews agree on the basic standards of morality upon which this country was founded.’ 22 But how to bring about that return? LaHaye had a battle plan: We are in a battle – and it takes armies to win wars. We need an army of moral activists led by their Bible-believing ministers ... It is time that the 110,000 faithful ministers from every Bible-believing denomination in our country lead the 60 million Christians to vote out of office every devotee of humanism and every politician naïve enough to vote for humanist programmes ... If all the 110,000 ministers in our country would ask God to use them to recruit just two members each year to run for public office, starting with school boards, city councils and so forth, assuming elections every other year, that would total 550,000 candidates. With adequate support from their friends, church associates and neighbours, at least 25% would be elected. Many would gain name recognition and proceed to state and national office and eventually, a majority of the 537 now representing us in Washington would be replaced by those who would truly represent the moral majority.23

* †

Updated and republished as Mind Siege in 2000. The term first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1899, but has been especially favoured in the United States to avoid any appearance of anti-Semitism and to stress the nation’s seventeenth-century Puritan origins.

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


LaHaye credited Falwell, ‘the most influential minister in America’,24 with the idea for the Moral Majority movement. Falwell, in turn, credited LaHaye with the strategy. On a visit to San Diego he’d been impressed by the way LaHaye had marshalled a group of local pastors to take on the state government. Both agreed that Moral Majority Inc. must be a conservative political organism uniting as many Americans, of whatever Christian or Jewish denomination, as possible. Two Catholic conservatives contributed to the establishment of the most powerful religious lobbying group America had ever seen. Paul Weyrich, the founder of the conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, coined the name Moral Majority. Richard Viguerie used his computerised direct-mail know-how to outflank the mainstream mass media and target up to eight million American conservatives. A few Jews joined the movement, but the vast majority were white Christians. Membership grew from around two million in 1980 when Reagan was first elected, to around 6.5 million by 1984, when he was re-elected.25 Hal Lindsey’s book, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (1981), helped spread the new gospel of political engagement. Pat Robertson climbed aboard. The inclusiveness of the project precluded any mention of the Rapture or an imminent Armageddon, but there was something there for any Christian Zionist, and for most American Jews. Number six on the list of Moral Majority Inc.’s positions was: ‘We support the state of Israel and Jewish people everywhere. It is impossible to separate the state of Israel from the Jewish family internationally ... one cannot belong to Moral Majority Inc. without making the commitment to support the state of Israel in its battle for survival ... No anti-Semitic influence is allowed in Moral Majority Inc.’ 26 Pat Robertson told a Jewish audience that ‘the possession of all of Jerusalem [including the Temple Mount] by the nation of Israel is of utmost significance in the fulfilment of biblical prophecy’.27 Dr Falwell informed ABC television: ‘You can’t belong to Moral Majority without being a Zionist.’ 28 An era infused with nuclear apocalypticism thanks to the Cold War proved a godsend for Israel and Christian Zionists. According to the writer and journalist Grace Halsell, a Mrs Bobi Hromas, a friend of President Reagan and Pat Robertson, a sponsor of West Bank settlements and a motivational speaker and writer, kept open house in a chapel opposite the Israeli embassy in Washington where ‘high ranking government officials may go to pray – at three hours a clip and around the clock for the “redemption” of all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates’.29 And hand in hand with nuclear apocalypticism and Christian Zionism went a fresh preoccupation with the End Times.


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It didn’t take an anxious press long to truffle out evidence that members of the Moral Majority Inc. and Reagan’s administration were millenarians. Secretary of State for the Interior, James Watt, let slip that he didn’t ‘know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns’ and Caspar Weinberger at the Pentagon admitted to having read the Book of Revelation and concluded that ‘time is running out’.30 The spotlight fell on Reagan himself. Nervous speculation culminated in a reporter for NBC News asking the president, ‘Do you feel that we are now heading perhaps for some kind of nuclear Armageddon, and do you feel that this country and the world could survive that kind of calamity?’ Reagan admitted to having spoken to a number of theologians who believed ‘the prophecies are coming together that portend that’.31 During his eight years in office, from 1981 to 1989, he held regular ‘gala dinner briefings at the White House’ 32 for Christian leaders, including Falwell, Lindsey, Robertson and LaHaye. To liberal Americans the president’s branding of the USSR as the ‘Evil Empire’ looked guaranteed to sabotage all efforts at nuclear détente and hasten the apocalypse. Reagan’s decision to pull ahead of the Soviets in the arms race with the development of the Strategic Defense Initiative, better known as Star Wars, exacerbated those fears. But Bible-believing Christians took the opposite view. As Timothy P. Weber puts it in his magisterial On the Road to Armageddon, pre-millennial dispensationalists believed that ‘if America took aggressive military steps, it could possibly hold the dogs of atomic war at bay until Jesus returned to evacuate his followers’.33 Reagan only disappointed them in his second term, by being too soft on the head of the Evil Empire, Mikhail Gorbachev, after 1985. Jewish American mistrust of the Moral Majority peaked just before the 1984 election when liberal Jews first became aware that, for all the respectful inclusiveness of the organisation, most of its members’ views on everything but Israel were anathema to them. When one poll found that 78 per cent of American Jews disliked Falwell despite his love of Israel,34 a conservative American Jew went to the trouble of compiling a sympathetic portrait of the famous pastor of Lynchburg and his views in a book entitled Jerry Falwell and the Jews (1984).* A more influential conservative Jew and one of the founding fathers of Neo-conservatism, Irving Kristol, argued that if Jews really cared about Israel’s survival they had to support the Moral Majority:

* The work was hurriedly reissued in 1999, after Falwell declared that the Antichrist had to be a Jew.

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


The social issues of the Moral Majority are meeting with practically no success, whereas anti-Israel sentiment has been distinctly on the rise, and the support of the Moral Majority could, in the near future, turn out to be decisive for the very existence of the Jewish state. That is why the Israeli government has struck its own balance vis a vis the Moral Majority, and it is hard to see why American Jews should come up with a different bottom line.35 Israeli right-wingers beat the same ‘existential threat’ drum today when justifying their alliance with Christian fundamentalists.

Falwell’s devotion to Israel is as old as Hal Lindsey’s, and pre-dates Robertson’s. For Falwell it was love at first sight of the TV footage of Israeli soldiers capturing Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in 1967. It was awed admiration from the moment Israel won the Six Day War over five Arab enemies, with ‘the intervention of God Almighty’, and he hailed Orde Wingate’s acolyte, General Moshe Dayan, as ‘the Miracle Man of the Age’.36 Tim LaHaye steered clear of the cult of the warrior Israelite. Always more focused than Falwell on the wider war against secular humanism, he didn’t want to be labelled a Christian Zionist because Zionism was a secular movement. LaHaye believed that the Israelis would convert to Christianity, but only after the Soviet Union had been ‘supernaturally destroyed by God’. Until then, he advised, ‘we must treat Israel as a trusted ally and judge her on the merits of her conduct’.37 While LaHaye split prophetic hairs, and Christians of older denominations fretted about the justice of Israel’s occupation of the Arab West Bank, and everyone else reversed their view of Israel as a little Jewish David confronting the Arab Goliath, Falwell revelled in Israel’s military prowess and the fulfilment of another End Times prophecy, and threw himself into Israel’s affairs. In 1971 he joined 1,500 ministers and laypeople from thirty-two countries for a super-size prophecy conference in Jerusalem. Three years later he was dispatching a tour guide to Petra, to the very cave in which William E. Blackstone had deposited copies of his Jesus is Coming almost a century earlier, to deposit another handy guide for Jews to consult in the post-Rapture Tribulation. It was a bible, with the following inscription: This Bible has been placed here on October 17, 1974, by the students and dean of the Thomas Road Bible Institute in Lynchburg, VA, USA.


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We respectfully urge its finder to prayerfully and publicly read the following Bible chapters. They are: Daniel 7 and 11, Matthew 24; II Thessalonians 2, Revelation 12 and 13.38 Understandably, given such bizarre behaviour and the unattractiveness of pre-millennial dispensationalism’s End Times role for the Jews, Israelis took a while to spot the political value of American fundamentalists. Only in March 1977, when President Jimmy Carter dared to suggest that the Soviet Union might have a useful role to play in the Middle East peace process and that the Palestinians should have an independent homeland, did Menachem Begin turn his attention to this captive proIsrael constituency. Israel’s first Likud prime minister and a direct heir of Vladimir Jabotinsky * and his hard-line ‘iron wall’ theory, Begin saw his little country as circled by implacable enemies and almost friendless in the wider world. It was time to capitalise on the one group of wealthy and influential Americans that was as opposed as he and many American Jews were to the idea of giving up the territories Israel had occupied in 1967. He appointed an evangelical liaison officer to a position in his private office and sent a special envoy to Washington to forge links with Christian Zionist pastors. Soon, eminent churchmen like Falwell were signing full-page declarations in the New York Times and Washington Post that ‘the time has come for evangelical Christians to affirm their belief in biblical prophecy and Israel’s divine right to the land’. There could be no Palestinian state. ‘We would view with grave concern any effort to carve out of the Jewish homeland another nation or political entity,’ 39 they warned. Likud’s campaign to firm up American Christian support for Greater Israel went hand in hand with its courting of the home-grown Orthodox Jewish constituency which could be similarly trusted to regard the building of new settlements in the Occupied Territories as a pious duty. From then on, Israelis would refer to the West Bank by its evocatively bible-era names, Judaea and Samaria, and biblical arguments would be deployed in defence of Israel’s claim to retain them, no matter how many UN resolutions demanded their evacuation. Likud was confident that the vast majority of Christian fundamentalists would not flinch at Israel’s poor human rights record. ‘We’re becoming more “neo-conservative”,’ explained one AIPAC insider in the mid-1980s. ‘We want to broaden Israel’s support to the right – with the people who do not care about


Begin revered Jabotinsky as ‘our teacher, master and father’.

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


what is happening on the West Bank but care a lot about [fending off] the Soviet Union.’ 40 Israel offered hundreds of American pastors free ‘familiarisation tours’ to Israel, during which they were flattered by the attentions of leading politicians and high-ranking figures in defence and intelligence, and fêted at banquets. Lindsey, Falwell, Robertson, Hagee and Missler all owe their cosy relations with the highest echelons of the Likud Party – and now Kadima too – to this thirty-year-old charm offensive. Prime Minister Begin rated Jerry Falwell especially highly, once calling him ‘the man who represents twenty million Americans’.41 On an allexpenses-paid visit to Israel in 1978, Falwell was flown by helicopter over the Golan Heights and photographed on bended knee, among saplings in a forest named in his honour. A year later, after deriding President Carter’s hard-won Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt as a waste of time because ‘you and I know there’s not going to be any peace in the Middle East until one day the Lord Jesus sits down upon the throne of David in Jerusalem’,42 Falwell was back in Israel. Surrounded by West Bank settlers, he pledged his moral support for the building of more settlements and said God had only been kind to America because ‘America has been kind to the Jew’.43 In 1980 all these services earned him the first Vladimir Jabotinsky medal ever awarded to a Gentile. Begin, who seems to have had as acute an understanding of the American Christian fundamentalist mind as Dr Weizmann had of its British counterpart, cultivated other friendships with visiting American fundamentalists. David A. Lewis fondly recalls meeting him fifteen times: ‘He was always interested in sharing Bible truths regarding Israel’s future destiny. I heard him tell a senior aide ... that we brought inspiration and comfort to him.’ 44 Lewis has been busy ‘blessing’ Israel ever since, setting up a Bible tours agency in 1981 and organising a well-attended Christian rally in support of Israel in 2002 at which ex-New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke, and the popular Christian broadcaster Janet Parshall famously promised ‘We will never limp, we will never wimp, we will never vacillate in our support of Israel!’ 45 In 2003, Lewis signed a petition denouncing the ‘roadmap’ peace plan. Lamarr Mooneyham, pastor of the 2,500-strong Tabernacle Church in Danville, Virginia, and graduate of Liberty University, fondly recalled for me that Falwell was a ‘practical joker’ with ‘a way of slapping you on the back to knock the breath out of you’. He cherished a memory of his meeting with Begin: ‘He was a wiry little man with huge teeth, like Jimmy Carter. He told us that Israel had had no tanks but had invented


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one, called the “Chariot” after the prophet Elijah’s chariot, and that it had destroyed nineteen Soviet-made S70s. I remember him saying “I am a man of the Old Book but your Dr. Falwell is going to show me the New Book”.’ Almost thirty years on, Pastor Mooneyham still believed that ‘every conscientious Christian must support Israel’ and that not one iota of difference separates the ancient Israelites from today’s Israelis; ‘same cereal, different box’, he said. And the Palestinians? ‘There’s so much about that I can’t understand,’ he answered. ‘I can’t begin to get into that mind-set. I don’t think their state’s ever going to happen.’ A fan of the Left Behind series, with a fifteen-minute slot on Christian radio every day, Mooneyham said, ‘The Jews are the only people on this earth who have a 4,000-year-old document saying it’s their land – we Americans don’t have that!’ Begin’s new best friends turned out to be as useful as he’d hoped. So it was that on launching a highly controversial pre-emptive strike against Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant in 1981, he immediately called not President Reagan but Jerry Falwell, to ask him to put a positive spin on the attack. ‘Mr. Prime Minister,’ a thrilled Falwell answered, ‘I want to congratulate you for a mission that made us very proud that we manufacture those F16s. In my opinion, you must have put it right down the smoke-stack!’ 46 Falwell preached an upbeat sermon on the subject at his Thomas Road church and urged 80,000 Moral Majority pastors to do the same, despite condemnation of the Israeli actions by President Reagan and the United Nations. Falwell’s ‘blessing’ of Israel at this time included converting Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate’s powerful Foreign Relations Committee, into a devout Christian Zionist. In 1982 Falwell led a party of forty Moral Majority pastors to Israel, to create ‘as many concerned American citizens into well-informed, educated friends of Israel as possible’.47 But that was just one of dozens of trips to the Holy Land he made that decade. The writer and journalist, Grace Halsell, joined him for two of them. On the first, in 1983, she was one of a group of 600; on the second, in 1985, she was one of more than 800. Chuck Missler’s group was a fraction of that size but there are plenty of similar-sized tours today. Halsell recalled that Falwell ‘did not mention we would be in the Land of Christ, where Jesus was born, had his ministry and died. Rather the focus was on Israel. We had only Israeli guides, stayed only in Israeli hotels ... Falwell did not arrange for us to meet [local, Palestinian] Christians.’ 48 Just as on Missler’s tour of the Holy Land, neither Jesus’s birthplace, Bethlehem, nor his home town, Nazareth, was included on the itinerary.

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


If Osirak had been one test of the firmness of Christian Zionists’ support for Israel, they soon passed another with flying colours: Israel’s widely condemned invasion of Lebanon in 1982. True to his private pledge to defend Israel, Pat Robertson joined General Ariel Sharon’s invasion force, riding into Lebanon in a military jeep. Confronted with a New York Times eyewitness report of Israeli flares guiding slaughter-squads of Lebanese Phalangists into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila in September that year, Falwell claimed ‘the Israelis were not involved’, that it was all ‘propaganda’.49 Pastor Mooneyham, at the time National Field Director of Falwell’s Liberty Federation lobby group, hazily recalled an Israel-funded trip to Lebanon in 1983, when the Israelis ‘were liberating Lebanon from the PLO’: ‘I was one of a group of forty-five people who the Israelis decided had access to some sort of media or pulpit. They gave us all video-tapes, ready to hand over to TV stations back home. They took us up to Beirut and we stood on a hillside and watched mortars going off. We thought it was really neat!’ Although quietened by its unheeded opposition to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords and a return of Israel’s Labour Party to power, the Likud/Christian Zionist alliance survived Israel’s switches of government of the later 1980s and early ’90s. Not until 1996, when the Jabotinsky/Begin ‘iron wall’ line was restored in the person of the son of an adviser to Jabotinsky, did Christian Zionists have a friend and partner to rival Begin. As Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Likud’s Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu had had plenty of opportunities to notice that American Christian Zionists’ dream of a Greater Israel exactly matched his own. He’d been a popular guest speaker and made all the requisite contacts at functions like the National Prayer Breakfast for Israel, at which Zionist Jews and Christians gather every year to listen to some Jewish shofar-blowing, consume a kosher breakfast and share their feelings about Israel’s special relationships with God and America. Within months of taking power in 1996 Netanyahu was flying seventeen leading Christian Zionists to Israel for a meeting at which they vowed to support the settlements and Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as her undivided capital, and pledged that ‘America will never, never desert Israel’.50 Back home, the seventeen took out full-page newspaper advertisements to publicise their pledge. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson (who had tried and failed to be elected as Reagan’s successor in 1988) and Reverend Ed McAteer – the organiser of the annual National Prayer Breakfast for Israel – took part in the campaign. Their noisy efforts contradicted and undermined the softly-softly implementation of the Oslo Peace Accords, the peace plan that President Clinton had been patiently pursuing with


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Netanyahu’s Labour Party predecessors. But it was simple; Netanyahu believed the Oslo Accords would fatally jeopardise Israel’s security, so he used every means available – including his Christian Zionist friends – to resist the pressure to implement them. Netanyahu’s behaviour towards the president during his January 1998 visit to Washington bordered on the boorish. Instead of politely making the White House his first port of call, he and Jerry Falwell arranged that on the afternoon he arrived he’d be whisked from the airport to his Mayflower Hotel, straight into a soirée for a thousand American Christian Zionists. Falwell played his part to the full at the event, declaring that pressurising Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories would be as ‘ridiculous’ as ‘asking America to give Texas to Mexico’ 51 and announcing a plan to bombard America’s 200,000 evangelical pastors with ‘email, faxes, letters, telephone’ demanding that they ‘go into their pulpits and use their influence in support of the State of Israel and the prime minister’.52 Netanyahu pointedly told the company that Israel had ‘no greater friends and allies than the people sitting in this room’.53 They hailed him as ‘the Reagan of Israel’.54 Seven years later, in an interview for Vanity Fair, Falwell recalled that Netanyahu had deliberately planned the occasion ‘as an affront to Clinton’.55 He also remembered Netanyahu’s report of his encounter with the president the next day. An irritated Clinton had opened the meeting with ‘I know where you were last night’.56 Netanyahu might have been tempted to return the compliment, as a joke cum veiled threat. It seems that, forearmed with the knowledge that Clinton was about to land himself in boiling hot water with the Religious Right over his affair with Monica Lewinsky,57 he’d calculated Clinton wouldn’t dare antagonise his foes any further by pressurising Israel. ‘Clinton had to save himself,’ Falwell happily recalled, ‘so he terminated the demands [on ceding parts of the West Bank] that would have been forthcoming during that meeting.’ 58 Falwell had done some more ‘blessing’ of Israel.

Falwell dissolved the Moral Majority Inc. in 1989, after a scandal about its unethical involvement with the Republican Party, but the war against secular humanism blazed on under the new banner of the Christian Coalition, an organisation founded by Pat Robertson in 1989. Same cereal, similar box. The Christian Coalition’s declared purpose was to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Judaeo-Christian values that made this the greatest country in the world’.59 One of those Judaeo-Christian values – ‘blessing’ Israel by

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


supporting the settlement of the Occupied Territories and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state – remained a tenet of the Religious Right. Pat Robertson’s bid to become president of the United States in 1988 had foundered on question marks over his record as a combat marine and his campaign financing. Some of his wilder pronouncements – that he would arrange the assassination of Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi, and his call to Christians to pray that liberal Supreme Court judges ‘be graduated to that great courtroom in the sky’ 60 – had also proved a powerful turn-off. But he had raised more money than any other candidate except the victor, George Bush Snr., and had established a grass-roots network that was easily adapted to the purposes of the Christian Coalition. No sooner had he launched the new organisation than this most energetic of Christian Zionists found time to embarrass his Jewish friends by penning a best-seller, The New World Order (1991). In part a reprise of the ‘wrong kind of Jew’ position taken by the Minneapolitan Christian Zionist William B. Riley in the 1930s, it attacked ‘cosmopolitan, liberal, secular Jews’ for their ‘assault on Christianity’.61 The work was roundly condemned by a reviewer for the New York Review of Books: ‘Not since [the anti-Semitic radio priest] Father Coughlin or Henry Ford has a prominent white American so boldly and unapologetically blamed the disasters of modern world history on the machinations of international high finance in general and on a few influential Jews in particular.’62 Like Falwell, in the late 1970s Robertson founded a nursery for the Religious Right, Regent University, at Virginia Beach. John Ashcroft, President Bush’s first attorney-general and a prominent Christian Zionist, is a member of its faculty. At its height the Christian Coalition could claim some two million members, which made it the new bastion of the Religious Right. So, when it seemed as if the American Jewish community might finally split under the strain of supporting a body that was pro-Israel but also committed to demolishing the freedoms prized by liberal Jews, it was the Christian Coalition that stepped into the ring. The occasion was the 1994 publication by the Jewish watchdog for anti-Semitism and bigotry, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), of a book entitled The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America. Its foreword, by Abe Foxman, the head of ADL, denounced what many American Jews were seeing as the Religious Right’s totalitarian plot to remake America in its own image: ... real debate over the problems afflicting American society is eclipsed by the blare of grievance and blame and chauvinism, and the


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fragile structures of consensus are bulldozed by sectarian, absolutist declarations. In this way we proceed down the road to the ‘Christian nation’ trumpeted by these prophets of rage.63 The Christian Coalition issued a fifty-page defence. Robertson and Foxman exchanged angry letters. Robertson later admitted that the attack had hurt him ‘terribly’,64 but the Christians would win the day. A year later, another important Jewish organisation, AIPAC, invited the Christian Coalition’s executive director to a meeting about supporting Israel. By mid-2002, when the second Palestinian Intifada was raging and Israel was incurring international opprobrium for what most of the world condemned as her disproportionately punitive reaction to a wave of suicide bombings, Abe Foxman had changed his tune and penned an article entitled ‘Why Evangelical Support for Israel is a Good Thing’. Endorsements by the ADL and AIPAC were significant victories for the Christian Coalition, and they were matched by other advances in the war against secular humanism. Pat Robertson knew just how to wage that war: ‘With the apathy that exists today, a small, well-organized minority can influence the selection of candidates to an astonishing degree,’ 65 he’d boasted in 1990. For the elections of 1994 Christian Coalition activists distributed 30 million ‘voter guides’ providing Christians with information on how their local candidates had voted or would vote in Congress on key issues – abortion, homosexuality, the teaching of creationism and Israel. Out of forty-five new members of the House of Representatives and nine of the Senate, almost half were Christian Coalition candidates. In a spirit of professional curiosity Dr John Green, Senior Fellow in Religion and American Politics at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, attended Christian Coalition workshops on how to fund-raise, and how to run for office in local government and school governor boards. ‘Nine-tenths of those events were about straight political organisation, only one tenth the heavyduty Christian message,’ he recalls. ‘The real story of the ’90s was the politicising of these folks.’ 66 The Christian Coalition printed 70 million ‘voter guides’ – five million of them in Spanish – for the election of 2000 that brought Bush to power. The results were highly satisfactory. The Pew Forum duly found that the ‘election underscored the importance of white evangelical voters’ to the Republican Party; such Christians constituted 34 per cent of Bush’s vote.67 In 2004, 48 of 51 Republican senators voted 100 per cent with the Christian Coalition’s agenda. In accordance with Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove’s declared intention to target the Religious Right, the Christian Coalition distributed 30 million voter guides for the elections of that year,

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


this time more closely targeted at Christians in crucial swing states such as Ohio and Florida. White evangelicals accounted for 36 per cent of Bush’s vote in 2004,68 the same year in which the Pew Forum discovered that in the wake of the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 and the events of 9/11, committed evangelical support for Israel had risen from 14 per cent in 2000, to 52 per cent.69 Tim LaHaye’s original battle plan has succeeded. Dr Green points out that the decline in Christian Coalition membership to 3–400,000 is a cause of rejoicing among the Religious Right today. With a born-again Christian in the White House, says Dr Green, there’s ‘a feeling that there needn’t be another Moral Majority or Christian Coalition because the Republican Party is the more useful organisation’.70 In the wittier words of Reverend Barry Lynn, an opponent of the Religious Right who heads Americans United for Separation of Church and State, ‘The good news is that the Christian Coalition is fundamentally collapsing; the bad news is that the people who ran it are all in government.’ 71 On visits to the White House Lynn had recognised a number of Pat Robertson’s former legal team. The Christian Coalition’s highest-profile action for Israel took the form of a gigantic Washington rally in October 2002. It kicked off with shofarblowing and a ringing endorsement from the Oval Office, and featured a number of leading Republican speakers. Ehud Olmert – then mayor of Jerusalem and who became prime minister of Israel in 2006 – told the cheering crowd, ‘God is with us, you are with us.’ 72

Until the mid-1990s, when the phenomenal success of his Left Behind saga made him a household name, Tim LaHaye had virtually no public profile as a leader of the Religious Right or as a lover of Israel. But, while Falwell and Robertson were noisily making their political mark with Moral Majority Inc. and the Christian Coalition during the 1980s and ’90s, LaHaye was making his own valuable gains for the Judaeo-Christian cause. Shortly after laying out a battle plan for Moral Majority Inc., in 1981, LaHaye had dreamed up another strategy for battling the ‘secular humanist’ enemy. With a handful of wealthy Republicans and his Moral Majority collaborator, Paul Weyrich, he founded the Council for National Policy (CNP), an elite club of leading Christian conservatives interested in shaping America’s domestic and foreign policy. The bland name – easily confused with that of the entirely unconnected and thoroughly respectable Centre for National Policy, for example – has proved an ideal camouflage for the most wealthy and influential Religious Right grouping in America


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today. ‘The Conservative Club of the Most Powerful’ was how the New York Times described the CNP shortly before the 2004 election, going on to reveal that after long days spent strategising about ‘how to turn the country to the right’ members held 10 p.m. prayer meetings at their luxury New York hotel.73 Thanks to assiduous ferreting by interested media, the names on some of its secret membership lists are known. That partial record reveals that all the most prominent Christian Zionists today, except for Dr John Hagee and Hal Lindsey, have been or still are associated with the CNP. Falwell, a veteran member, called the CNP ‘a group of four or five hundred of the biggest guns in the country’.74 Pat Robertson, another stalwart member, has declared, ‘If you want to be in the know about the real scoop, then you don’t read about it in the newspaper; this is the organisation to be part of.’ 75 Lt.-Col. Oliver North, sacked by Reagan for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair,* claims that ‘the kind of people that are involved in this organisation reflect the best of what America really is’.76 Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail wizard of Moral Majority Inc. has piously said, ‘I’ve often thought that when we launched the group with prayer and some very good men, it really seemed like the Lord was with us that day in Dallas’.77 LaHaye, the club’s first president, has rejoiced in his creation: ‘It isn’t often in life that reality is better than the dream. That’s the way it is with the CNP.’ 78 A real-life Trib Force whose purpose is to do battle with the Antichrist of secular humanism, the CNP is as conservative, Christian – and secretive – as its Left Behind fictional counterpart. Its singularly uninformative website does, however, reveal that one needs more than born-again Christian and Republican credentials to gain admittance: first, one has to be recommended by a current member, and secondly, membership costs between $1,750 and $10,000 a year. Given that all participants are bound by the ‘strictest secrecy’, information about the CNP and its thrice-yearly meetings is hard to come by but it was no surprise to find Chuck Missler listed as a member in 1998, and described as having ‘participated in the development of some of the most exotic, top-secret weapons systems, including Stealth bomber and anti-submarine warfare.’ 79 Chuck might have heard an old war-horse of the Moral Majority, Howard Philips, speak; Philips looked forward to the day when America would be plunged into such a crisis that the Christian * North secretly sold arms to Iran and funnelled the proceeds, via Israel, to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua. Despite his public disgrace, he has remained a hero of the Christian Right.

‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’


Right would be invited to take over. ‘My friends, it is time to leave the “political Titanic” on which the conservative movement has for too long booked passage,’ Philips told a meeting that year; ‘it is our task to build an ark so that we can and will be ready to renew and restore our nation and our culture when God brings the tide to flood’.80 George W. Bush sought and received the CNP’s support for his candidacy at a meeting in San Antonio in 1999. The Middle East has certainly featured as a discussion topic. While recommending no action against Iran or North Korea, a 2002 meeting endorsed an invasion of Iraq: ‘America in its strikes against Iraq, will not be the aggressor but the leader and the united force of all the opposition groups inside Iraq – the Kurds, the Shia minority etc.’ 81 was the confident forecast. Vice-President Dick Cheney spoke at a meeting in 2003. So did Secretary of State for Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who received the CNP’s coveted Thomas Jefferson Award and called the club ‘the heart of a great consciousness movement that helped to make America strong in the 20th century and is now helping to ensure that she remains free and strong in the 21st century’.82 The famous right-wing talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, and Falwell were guest speakers in 2005. Falwell explained to club members, ‘We now, because of “motor voter registration”,* are able to legally resister our congregations very methodically each year, right in the pews, and to urge them out to the polls to vote “Christian”, not Republican or Democrat.’ 83 Voting ‘Christian’, of course, entails voting Christian Zionist. Sarah Posner, a journalist who has researched the CNP, objects to the organisation on the same grounds as many criticise some gigantic Christian ministries: tax evasion. Because the CNP describes itself as ‘an educational foundation’,84 it has charity status, known in America as 501(c)(3). Although the group was investigated, found wanting and stripped of its preferential tax bracket, it has been reinstated as a charity on condition that it publish some account of its proceedings. Posner points out that the resulting quarterly journal goes out of its way not to advertise itself; no mention of the CNP appears in its surely deliberately opaque title, Policy Counsel. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the workings of the CNP mirror the conspiratorial mind-set of its founder Tim LaHaye and some of its Christian Zionist members. Surprise turns to disbelief at the news that

* The popular name for the Voter Registration Act (2000), designed to reduce the red tape involved in registering to vote.


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there’s a still more elite group within the CNP – the Arlington Group. Falwell, direct-mail supremo Richard Viguerie, Reverend James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and two more of the most vocal Christian Zionists today – Dr Richard Land of the mighty Southern Baptist Conference (SBC) and Gary Bauer of American Values (AV), about both of whom more in Chapter 10 – are all members of this inner Trib Force. ‘We talk to each other daily and meet in Washington probably twice a month,’ Falwell bragged to Vanity Fair. ‘We often call the White House and talk to Karl Rove while we’re meeting. Everyone takes our calls.’ 85

chapter 9

Watchmen for Israel

Spread far and wide on the south side of the russet Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs started life in 1871 as a health resort so popular with English tourists it was nicknamed ‘Little London’. Today it’s ‘The Evangelical Vatican’ or the home of the US Air Force Academy, or simply, America’s ‘best big city’. All three factors – religious, military and quality of life – combined to attract veteran Christian Zionist Ted Beckett here. A fourth, the city’s extraordinary rate of growth, was another consideration. Ted is in real estate. Perched up high beside him in the front of his SUV, I am being given a guided tour of his business empire. We’ve enjoyed spotting his cream signboards dotted around the fringes of town. We’ve visited his motel, his mobile-home park and the downtown office where, with the help of six staff, he fixes up what he calls his ‘anointed business deals’; half a million dollars a year of his profits go to charity, much of it to Israel. I’ve exclaimed in awe at it all, and he’s humbly replied ‘Way I look at it – I’m just a steward of God’s property.’ Ted’s prominently displayed mission statement reads: ‘beckett develops land to provide resources to extend god’s kingdom while modelling biblical principles.’ We continue our tour of town. Ted points out for me that Colorado Springs is ringed with five defence establishments. He explains that in the event of the Cold War turning hot, the defence of the entire western world would have been masterminded from a bunker deep inside the Rockies here. ‘It’s sort of like God had his hand on this area,’ he says, before informing me that Colorado Springs also boasts the highest concentration of fundamentalist Christian groups America has ever known. ‘What is this connection between Christian conservatives and the military, Ted?’ I am recalling my solidarity visit to the Israeli army base on the Golan Heights with Chuck Missler, but also Jerry Falwell’s awestruck joy at Israel’s


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lightning strike against its neighbours in the Six Day War of 1967, and Hal Lindsey’s 1981 call to America to rearm herself and become mighty again. I’m remembering how Christian Zionists hurled themselves into Reagan’s crusade against Communism in Central America in the 1980s, as actively as they’re promoting George W. Bush’s war against Islamic fundamentalism today. Back then, Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum had distributed ‘Freedom Fighter Friendship Kits’ to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua. Pat Robertson had raised money for the evangelical Christian pastor who presided over Guatemala’s genocide of 100,000 Mayan Indians in 1982.1 I’m also recalling that 87 per cent of white American evangelicals backed the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003.2 Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism (2005), notes the Religious Right’s remarkable success at conferring ‘moral palatability’ 3 on every one of America’s recent military adventures and firmly attributes this to its ‘fetish’ for Israel, a country that for reasons of ‘geography, demographics and history’ – none of which the United States shares – has usually placed ‘its trust in guns rather than expressions of goodwill’.4 That may be too simplistic. A society that holds as fast as a country like Yemen – where guns worn slung over the men’s shoulders are as common a sight as women’s handbags – to its people’s traditional right to own weapons is surely honouring its pioneer origins. But what has this gun-toting to do with the Christian Gospel of peace and humility? The only explanation I can find is that the appeal of the mighty, just God of the Jewish Old Testament has always been far stronger than that of the New Testament’s humble saviour, for American Protestants. I’m interested to know how Ted accounts for his Christian love of war. ‘From God’s perspective,’ he answered me, like a character out of one of the Left Behind books or an updated Old Testament, ‘he’d like his people to have their finger on the trigger.’ We will never see eye to eye, but I feel more comfortable with Ted than I have with any other Christian Zionist, confident that our encounter won’t degenerate into a Bible-believer versus secular humanist bust-up of the kind I suffered with Chuck Missler. Although as big a man as Missler and Falwell, with the same self-belief, the same air of military command, Ted has something else too: some Irish ancestry. Last night – over a bottle of whisky, which the Lord had providentially instructed him to buy without telling him why it might come in handy – we had a frank exchange of views about his vocation as a ‘prophet’ and a ‘watchman for the house of Israel’.5 He didn’t slam down his bible and show me the door when I questioned the wisdom of ‘meddling’ in Middle Eastern affairs. Far from it. He seemed to relish the altercation.

Watchmen for Israel


I have high hopes that Ted will furnish me with an insight into the spiritual make-up of an actively committed American Christian Zionist. I like him so much I can enjoy even his powerful urge to witness to his faith, which is working to my advantage. He has confided, ‘As soon as you called, the Lord told me to take care of you. He’s prodding his prophet!’ He’s tried to appeal to me on my own level by pointing out that ‘people as pragmatic, as sharp and savvy’ as he is wouldn’t fall for any fairy tale – ‘we go for Christianity because it works!’ A few minutes ago he ordered me to reach on to the back seat of the SUV for a paperback, open it at random, and read the first thing I saw. I read a modern meditation in pseudo-biblical language entitled ‘I Want to do a Beautiful Work’. ‘You see?’ he said. ‘God’s told me to help you write this book – so it’ll be a “beautiful work”.’ Witnessing to his faith is as second nature to Ted as striking business deals. During a pit-stop at a steak-house, he tries his large Christian charms on our young waitress. Swiftly reading her name-tag as she sets down our outsize helpings of steak, he begins, ‘Nicky, my British friend here and I are just about to say grace. Now, I’m getting a sense that there’s someone you’d like us to pray for, someone in your family who’s in trouble?’ Nicky is visibly touched by the overture. ‘You are so sweet! How did you know?’ she exclaims. ‘My brother Michael’s an alcoholic.’ Ted clasps his hands and closes his eyes. ‘Satan, get your hands off Michael!’ he commands. When he’s done praying and has interrogated Nicky on her churchgoing habits, he produces a business card: ‘Nicky, when Michael gets saved, healed and delivered, send me an email, will you?’ he says. Nicky disappears. I compliment him on his sales pitch and he admits with a grin, ‘OK, there’s a little bit of a salesmanship aspect to this. What you have to understand is that girl’s going back there to the kitchen to show the others my card. That’s how God works!’ ‘I see, you’re killing two birds with one stone! Jews would call it chutzpah ...’ ‘You know, I get along with those rabbis in Israel – they think I’m Jewish – they say I’ve got more chutzpah than they have!’ Here is my cue, but Ted doesn’t want to launch straight into the tale of his conversion to Christian Zionism, and I’m happy for him to start at the beginning of his life-story. As an extraordinary tale of sin and redemption unfolds, I’m cast straight back into the fast-moving, swiftly changing, rough and tumble world of Pastor George Adams and his Regenerators in the mid-1800s, a world in which the scramble for money and the urge towards God were one and the same, in which divine and economic miracles went


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hand in hand. It seems to me that nothing but technology and the existence of Israel has changed. Grandson of the fabulously wealthy inventor of the oil filter for Henry Ford’s automobiles, Ted recalls a childhood spent in 1940s California, in a vast house with thirteen bathrooms and a rifle range in the attic. But he also remembers being a juvenile delinquent, expelled from two Catholic boarding-schools. ‘I guess God was just delivering me from Catholicism!’ he says comfortably. Worried by her black sheep of an eldest son, his mother offered him $1,000 to join the Marines. He spent nine months in Korea where he was almost cashiered for misconduct, before returning to the US. Studying at the army’s expense in Nevada in 1957, Ted took up gambling and impregnated his girlfriend. By the time he’d married her and a second baby was on the way, they were living in Las Vegas and he’d gone ‘berserk’ – gambling away a loan from his mother, failing to pay his wife’s hospital bill, losing his family, and trying but failing to rob an old woman in a casino. Ted recalls: ‘Finally, I got to asking myself “How low have I fallen? What’ll I do?” and it’s like a little voice spoke to me saying “Why don’t you pray?”’ Ted had made a deal with God: if God would help him get his family back, he would believe in him. Homeless, sleeping in his car on the freeway one night, he’d been sprayed by a passing water truck: ‘It was like I’d gotten baptised – I felt clean,’ he says. Taking himself off to the nearest gas station, he’d got a job. ‘I took one step towards God, and BOOM!’ With God in his heart and some money in his pocket, he was able to retrieve his family and move to ‘the buckle on the Bible Belt’, San Antonio, Texas, where he became such ‘a big shot’ he forgot about God. When a Baptist preacher tried to draw him back into the fold, he fled to buy cigarettes, but no sooner had he jumped in his car than a voice said, ‘You’re a hypocrite.’ For a moment he wondered if the preacher had planted a tape-recorder on the back seat. ‘So you’re not going to give it a try?’ the voice badgered him. ‘I didn’t know what “it” was but I told God I’d give it two weeks,’ says Ted, reminding me that ‘in the US if a thing is valid you get a two-week money back guarantee’. Turning over a new leaf the next morning, he offered to baby-sit his children, and settled down to read the newspaper. But there’d been a message scrolling across the top of the page: ‘If you’re a Christian you have to read the Bible,’ it said. ‘It was weird, and it wasn’t weird, all at the same time’, he explains. ‘But I don’t have a bible,’ he protested. ‘Ask your wife,’ said another scrolling message. He began to read the Old Testament’s Genesis, but it bored him. A fresh message appeared at the

Watchmen for Israel


top of the page. ‘Try the New Testament,’ it said. Ted obeyed. ‘Now, the New Testament has some kind of story line, so I’m doing OK and, as I’m reading the Sermon on the Mount, the lights go on. I know what this guy Jesus is doing! He’s recruiting! Just like in the Marines, someone takes full responsibility and in return they get total submission. Good’s got nothing to do with it; if you’re not on the team, who cares whether you’re good or not? Like in the Marines, the only way to survive is if you know the ground rules; there’s a Devil out there and God blesses those who show great faith in him.’ My lights are going on. In affording me this glimpse of the roots of his faith, Ted was revealing that his brand of Christianity was all about power. Small wonder that appeals to compassion for the sufferings of Palestinians fall on stony ground. Here at last is a rational accounting for the swaggering facetiousness of Christian Zionist luminaries like Missler, Falwell, Robertson and Lindsey. Armed with their selected Bible chapters and verses, these Christians are engaged in a war against Evil, working to another code of conduct entirely. When the stakes are this high, when it has to do with Israel and God’s plan for the end of the world, man-made laws about the ethics of just wars and the proportionate use of force, the Sermon on the Mount’s ‘blessed are the peacemakers’, are utterly null and void. That, and diplomacy, nuance, empirical evidence, human rights and the art of compromise count for nothing. Neglecting my giant steak, I’m noting every word Ted says: ‘... you see, once you get my kind of faith, you get authority, you get to be boss, you get to control events. It’s in Luke 10: 19 – behold I, Jesus, give unto you, Ted, authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the Devil [sic], and nothing shall by any means hurt you. So, I’ve got the best weapons and body armour anyone could possibly have. I can do stuff no one else can do because I know the authority of the believer.’ While we’re on the subject of power, I ask Ted about President Bush’s favourite means of communicating with the Religious Right, his frequent recourse to their lexicon: ‘For example, Ted, most British politicians don’t tend to use the word evil ...’ ‘Of course they don’t, because they’re chicken! But from a biblical perspective Bush is right! We’re in a giant chess game between God and the Devil. For liberals and left-wingers there are no absolutes like that. But that’s wrong! Only the Bible will tell you what those absolutes are. You see, I have the proof, the other side only has opinion!’ Reminded of Chuck, I’m hoping that in the absence of a handy bible, Ted won’t be tempted to hurl his coleslaw at me. I try a different tack, appealing to the ‘savvy’ businessman in him. ‘But Ted, $3.5 billion of American


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taxpayers’ money to Israel a year, a third of the foreign aid budget, and what exactly do you get in return? There are people who say America’s alliance with Israel makes little sense now the Cold War is over.’ ‘Right!’ ‘So?’ ‘America has a tendency to do things that are right. It’s the only nation in the world to do that these days. The Devil’s plan is to destroy Israel. You see, Britain quit doing God’s will out in Palestine before World War Two, and what happened? She lost her empire. Now it’s the United States that has the power to do God’s will around the earth.’ Our dessert has arrived, and it’s time to resume the life-story because we’ve only reached as far as the early 1960s. A judge at his local Baptist church in San Antonio introduced Ted to bible prophecy on Wednesday nights, and he went up a rank in the Lord’s army by acquiring what Pentecostals call ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’. God started showing him things ‘about the key to prosperity’, but no one in his church liked his divinely inspired suggestion that instead of strictly donating a tenth of their income to the church, they should obey St Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians – ‘as a man purposes in his heart so let him give’. Ted had accepted his fellow church members’ rebuke; ‘OK, I’ve got a false doctrine,’ he admitted. I interrupt with another question: ‘What do you mean when you say the Lord’s speaking to you, Ted? How do you know it’s God? It could be Satan, couldn’t it?’ ‘OK,’ he says, pausing for thought, ‘let me liken natural man to a radio tuned to AM; that’s man with his natural sense. When he’s tuned to FM, that’s man with all his mental capacities. The born-again experience connects you into short-wave, where you can hear, though it’s kind of scratchy. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit gives you XM – the latest! It comes straight off the God satellite, static free! What you seculars don’t understand is that we’re getting information you don’t get. It’s coming from a different dimension.’ Obviously, there’s the occasional glitch and an earned rebuke from fellow Christians: ‘You have to learn through trial and error,’ he admits. Back then he was so ‘addicted to miracles’, he got himself expelled from his church, left town and moved to Dallas. ‘It’s the mid-60s now, I’m in Dallas and I’m somebody,’ he recalls, ‘I’m hobnobbing with all these hotshots. God’s prospering the socks off me and he’s putting it into my heart that I have to go out into the world with the Gospel.’ Ted had had a real-estate business and most of his seven children to take care of by then, but off he went to Mexico and Haiti to spread the

Watchmen for Israel


Word. He remembers staying with a poor Haitian minister whose nubile daughters brought him water to wash in every morning. ‘The Lord spoke to me: “Beckett, you couldn’t get this at any hotel!”’ ‘The Lord never said anything that banal!’ I protest, choking with laughter. ‘He did, he did – the Lord has a great sense of humour! You Brits don’t know that. You know your problem? You’ve got cemeteries around your churches. The Lord’s a living God!’ In 1967 Ted went to Sri Lanka, where he discovered he had the gift of healing. He remembered how, while he was staying in a small village, hundreds of disabled natives got to hear of his power and came to see him. To an old man on crutches he said ‘Jump for Jesus!’ and watched while ‘God healed him in mid-air.’ Ted recalled it as if it were yesterday: ‘That guy was leaping around, like on a pogo-stick!’ It was on his way back from his Sri Lankan triumphs, in the snowy January of 1968, that he first set foot in Israel ... If I want to hear what happened next, I’d better come back to his place, he says, asking Nicky for the check.

Back in the SUV I learn that Ted knows everyone who’s anyone in Colorado Springs. Though he’s arrived too recently to have heard any gossip about how a forty-year-old George W. Bush triumphed over the demon drink after a night at the city’s luxury Broadmoor Hotel in 1986, Ted has breakfasted with Jerry B. Jenkins, the multimillionaire co-author of the Left Behind series. He’s telling me that I have to visit the gigantic new premises of Reverend James Dobson’s Focus on the Family organisation, a major campaign headquarters for battling Christian Right demons – homosexual partnerships, abortion, evolution and liberal Supreme Court judges. He says I also have to see the New Life mega church on the edge of town, where his friend, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Pastor Ted Haggard, presides over a flock of 14,000. ‘I’ve known Haggard for years. I gave one of his sons his first gun,’ he remarks. Haggard was the star interviewee in a 70-minute documentary film Ted spent $300,000 producing in the run-up to the 2004 elections. Reproduced in 300,000 copies for distribution in churches and Christian bookstores, George W. Bush: Faith in the White House was directed by David Balsiger, author of Secrets of the Bible Code Revealed and member of the secretive Council for National Policy. Ted did not answer an email enquiring if he was a member of the CNP. A hagiographic portrait of the president, the film shows Pastor Haggard fulsomely endorsing Bush as a man of God,


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and following up with a bullish prophecy that ‘in another 100 years, in the Islamic world, [Bush] will be viewed as a great liberator’. The New York Times panned the film: ‘In this pious but not humble worldview, faith or at least a certain brand of it, counts more than competence, and a biblical mission, or at least a simplistic blunderbuss facsimile of one, counts more than the secular goal of waging an effective focused battle against an enemy as elusive and cunning as terrorists.’ 6 ‘Haggard’s gotten much more pro-Israel recently,’ Ted tells me. True, but Haggard remains as moderate a Christian Zionist as they come. Most Christian Zionists loudly objected to Sharon’s cession of Gaza to the Palestinians in the summer of 2005; some even joined the Gaza settlers’ protest and they heartily applauded Israel’s revenge attack on southern Lebanon the following summer. Haggard’s position is more nuanced. Although he invited an Israeli extremist who had made dangerously active efforts to rebuild the Temple to speak at his church, he’s also said he’d be surprised if the Temple were erected any time in the next two hundred years. While allowing one of his ‘small groups’ * to fund-raise for an illegal West Bank Jewish settlement, Haggard indicated his willingness to see a Palestinian state in that same West Bank. On a trip to Israel in the spring of 2005, Haggard met both Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and promised to ‘support the state of Israel come hell or high water’,7 but he was cautious about openly championing Israel’s campaign in southern Lebanon. Admitting that he was being bombarded with phone calls from Israeli officials begging him to speak out in support of Israel, Haggard excused his reticence on that occasion as ‘not a rejection of Israel, or even a hesitation about Israel’.8 He was concerned to protect the soul harvest of a small army of American evangelical missionaries to the Arab Middle East since the turn of the new millennium – embattled communities of born-again Christian Arabs. Non-born-again Christian Arabs, adherents of the old denominations who are finding their faith is being brought into disrepute by the activities of Christian Zionists, were no concern of his. Haggard’s friend and neighbour in Colorado Springs, Reverend Dobson at Focus on the Family, was more forthcoming in the summer of 2006. Likening Israel to ‘little David’ and Hezbollah to a ‘mighty Goliath’, Dobson loyally declared that Israel was being ‘threatened with annihilation’.9 But even he *

Mega-churches’ memberships are broken down into ‘small groups’ based on special interests: Israel, ballroom dancing, Indian cooking, for example. McClean Bible Church outside Washington advertises its gun enthusiasts’ small group as ‘On Target for Christ’.

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didn’t follow Pat Robertson out to Jerusalem to hold hands with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and pray for Israel’s victory, or let rip with a battlecry like Robertson’s ‘This is a supernatural struggle. It is either Jehovah, the God of the Bible or it’s the moon god of Mecca that they call Allah.’ 10 Haggard and Dobson belong to a younger, more sophisticated generation of Christian Zionists than Robertson and Falwell and Beckett. Until November 2006, when Haggard’s reputation and career were spectacularly ruined by revelations concerning his use of drugs and the services of a male prostitute, both were members of the inner Arlington Group, with carte blanche to telephone President Bush or his top advisers once a week. As head of the NAE, Haggard represented 45,000 American churches. Dobson is still riding high as probably the most significant Religious Right leader today; his daily radio programme reaches 200 million listeners on 6,000 radio stations, in 164 countries. The circle of Ted’s acquaintance extends as far as Chuck Missler, who lives in Idaho. Ted knew Chuck well back in California in the ’60s and recalled how the local chapter of Fire-fighters for Christ had paid Chuck to record all his bible prophecy on tapes, which they’d then distributed free of charge. ‘I still have the whole set,’ says Ted, ‘but I’m thinking of giving it to the boy who does our gardening – he thinks Chuck’s God.’

We are seated in afternoon sunshine on the terrace outside Ted’s magnificent Spanish mission-style mansion. Ted’s personal assistant, a former military intelligence officer who also attends Pastor Haggard’s church, is filling him in on the day’s business developments. The three of us will dine on Kentucky Fried Chicken together in a few hours, after Ted has filled me in on the Israel chapter of his life-story. ‘OK – so there I am in snowy Jerusalem in January 1968. There’s a curfew, I know no one. I’m staying in a little bitty room, wanting to visit the Temple Mount, getting mad at a Jewish taxi-driver who won’t take me there. All I knew then was that the time of the Gentiles was over because the Jews had taken Jerusalem six months earlier. I just assumed they had the Temple Mount, but Moshe Dayan had backed down over that ... Anyway, I went up there on my own, and a fat Arab tried to charge me a $3 entrance fee! I thought, “They figure I’m some sort of patsy – the day I pay $3 to visit some heathen temple ... ” I just turned on my heel. But as I turned I saw all those Muslim Gentile feet trampling that holy ground. No, I said to myself, the time of the Gentiles is not over.’ It was then that Ted received his divine calling to be ‘a watchman for the House of Israel’. Back home in Texas, eight years came and went


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before he met a leading Christian Zionist and Temple enthusiast of the era, Dr Hilton Sutton. He asked Dr Sutton what he was doing to warn the Israelis of their prophesied invasion by the Soviets. Not a lot, was the answer. Dr Sutton wondered if Ted had any ideas. ‘I told him he had to get up a multi-media show, strike a gold medal inscribed with the words “Watchman of the House of Israel” to present to Prime Minister Begin, and lead a tour party of Christians to Israel. “You’ll be a fulfilment of the prophet Ezekiel!” I told him.’ Dr Sutton was keen, but only if Ted would run the project. ‘I suggested we call it the Ezekiel File – I think I’d just read The Odessa File – and he went wild! OK, I said, I’d be happy to manage the thing, on condition he gave me an Amex card, a Lincoln convertible and all my expenses.’ Dr Sutton had turned out to be short of funds. Ted had done his best, organising a series of fund-raising banquets all over Texas and beyond, but he never got a chance to present Israel’s prime minister with the gold medal. Begin had been too tied up negotiating the Camp David Accords with Egypt in 1978 to attend any award-giving ceremony. For the 1980s and the start of the 1990s Ted limited his watching over the House of Israel to a few protracted visits there, and the odd Bible marathon. On one of those visits he encountered an Israeli lawyer named Mark Zell. During a 1995 visit he met Zell again and learned that Zell and his friend, Ron Nachman, the leader of a large West Bank settlement named Ariel, had responded to the Labour Party’s stopping of all government aid to the settlements in accordance with the Oslo Peace Accords by setting up a charity called the American Friends of Israeli Communities Development Foundation.* Ted told me that Sharon and Netanyahu were both involved in that initiative to tap American Jews for continued funding for the apparently doomed settlements. Interested, Ted had gone to Ariel, met Nachman and got talking to Nachman’s right-hand woman: ‘I told her – involuntarily, I wasn’t really thinking – “You ought to have a Christian Friends of the ICDF”.’ She’d been quick off the mark: ‘If you’d be our chairman we’d have one, wouldn’t we?’ That same year, 1995, Ted had formed Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), the only one of hundreds of pro-Israel Christian groups today to make no bones whatsoever about its active and exclusive support for the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. American administration after administration since the early 1970s has described Israel’s settlement-building programme in the West Bank and


Defenders of the settlements refer to them as ‘communities’.

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East Jerusalem as ‘unhelpful’, but still the calculated creation of enough ‘facts on the ground’ to render a Palestinian state impracticable, and any lasting peace impossible, continues. The settlement issue lies at the very heart of the conflict, which means that unconditional bible-based support for those communities is the bluntest, heaviest, most controversial weapon Christian Zionists are wielding on Israel’s behalf. In April 2004 President George W. Bush earned his Christian Zionist spurs and the applause of all supporters of a Greater Israel by failing to reiterate the ‘unhelpfulness’ of settlement expansion in a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Instead, he crucially but vaguely conceded that ‘realities on the ground’ made it ‘unrealistic’ to expect that Israel could entirely vacate the West Bank.11 Ted’s CFOIC set about securing a Greater Israel by inviting American churches to ‘adopt’ a settlement apiece. Adoption of a settlement entailed fund-raising for specific items: a watchtower, a playground, a bullet-proof bus, school-books, an ambulance, for example. Regular solidarity visits, exchanges and personal contacts were to be fostered. The CFOIC has charity tax status, a fact that Ted accounts for in the following way: ‘The money we get can’t be used for political purposes, but it can be used for morally political purposes.’ It is also a state of affairs that reflects America’s enduring practical endorsement of the settlements, whatever her presidents have publicly stated. I can tell that Ted doesn’t care for my line of enquiry. He suspects I’m objecting to the CFOIC on the same grounds as an Israeli might: ‘If you’re looking for a hidden agenda in CFOIC,’ he says testily, ‘I’m telling you I didn’t set out to convert the Jews – my assignment was only to get them into their prophets. They don’t read their own prophets! I tell them I’ve discovered 300 prophecies about the Jewish restoration to the land, and another 300 showing Jesus was the messiah, but I’m willing to concentrate on the first group – unless they’re interested – then I tell them about the other 300.’ The Kentucky Fried Chicken has arrived.

On a Sunday morning Ted and I set off to Faith Bible Church in Denver to see his friends, Pastor George Morrison (an ex-marine and reformed drug-dealer, who came to Christian Zionism via Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth), and his wife, Cheryl. ‘Theirs is the mega church to go to in Denver if you love Israel and you want to express that in any way,’ Ted explains. The Morrisons had helpfully set CFOIC’s ball rolling by adopting the settlement of Ariel in 1995. Visitors to Faith Bible Church are greeted by a wall of Jerusalem


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limestone inscribed with ‘Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem’ and a stand promoting Israeli beauty products. Ted is a ‘big shot’ here; the Morrisons have recently recognised his services to Zionism by presenting him with a bust of Theodor Herzl. During a chat with Cheryl that is frequently interrupted by her mobile’s cheerful Israeli ring-tone, I learn that the church hosts a lavish Israel Awareness Day every other year. The charred carcass of Jerusalem’s Bus #19, the same that graced the NRB conference, was the centrepiece in 2005. Other attractions included an installation of a plane fuselage to symbolise the airlift of Soviet Jews to Israel since 1990, a maze to navigate while being instructed about the Holocaust through headphones, and a display of Israeli dancing by a hundred junior church members. Alongside annual solidarity trips to Ariel and school exchanges, the Faith Bible Church is currently ‘blessing’ Israel by funding Ariel’s new child development centre and a scholarship for anyone who has completed their military service, as well as ‘a certain kind of video camera’ the settlers had requested. Cheryl, who has visited Israel more than forty times since God ‘did something dramatic’ by making Israel her ‘driving passion’, is deeply distressed by the dismantling of the Gaza Strip settlements in 2005. It was ‘biblically wrong’, she says flatly; ‘somehow or other, in God’s timekeeping, that’s not the end of it’.

Another steak-house and another of Ted’s Christian charm offensives, this time against a waitress whose boss’s husband could use a prayer. I need to clear up a few last points but I’ll have to be quick. Ted wants to be back in Colorado Springs in time to watch the Denver Broncos game. ‘Ted, obviously you believe that God wants Israel to have the land they conquered in the Six Day War, but how much more do you think he wants Israel to have? All the way to the Euphrates, like it says in Genesis?’ ‘That’s difficult,’ he admits, diffidently for a man in real estate. ‘I try to stay out of the political issues in order to be God’s man.’ He doesn’t want me getting the wrong idea; Ted loves neither Israel nor the Jews. ‘My allegiance is not to Israel; I’m just trying to be one of God’s agents in this area. God’s chosen the Jews to accomplish a specific task; they have the right genes for it, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best people in the world. Let me give you an example: I’ll know which one of my seven kids would do the best job of buying chicken takeaway, but it doesn’t mean he or she’s my favourite.’ Ted is reminding me that modern American Christian Zionism should never be confused with George Eliot’s brand of philo-Semitism. What

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interests him is the Jews in their capacity as God’s instrument. He wants to ‘stay out of political issues’, but acting as ‘God’s agent in the area’ entails adopting three important political positions: first, he’s championing the cause of a minority religious-nationalist segment of Israel’s population against the majority; secondly, he’s denying the Palestinians any right to a homeland; thirdly, he’s ignoring an almost forty-year-old United Nations resolution calling for Israel’s withdrawal from the territories it had occupied in the Six Day War.* None of these matters concerns Ted. He is working to the divine plan. ‘Sometimes Israel’s going with God’s plan and sometimes it’s not,’ he explains. ‘Christian Zionists understand that Israel sometimes does very dumb things. Israel’s greatest time was under King David, when it was a kingdom with a king who’d sold out to God. Today, we’ve got democracy in Israel, but very few people in that democracy care one thing about God. They’re blinded to the way he works. Never mind! God is so neat he uses people who don’t have a clue about what he wants.’ Ted knows exactly what God wants: ‘God’s working towards a time when Israel will be headed by a man like David – a benevolent dictator, a man after God’s heart.’ A super-powerful Jewish king was what Sir Henry Finch had in mind too, one King James I would have had to pay homage to. I ask my next question. ‘Ted, do you believe, like Chuck, that two-thirds of Jews are going to have to be destroyed at Armageddon?’ For once, I’m a little heartened by his reply. ‘How ridiculous is this? I’ve had it out with Chuck but he won’t listen, he won’t accept that about two-thirds of scripture was fulfilled in the Holocaust. People won’t understand prophecy when it’s fulfilled right under their noses! I’ll give you a zinger – Jeremiah 30, “Why then do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labour? Why has every face turned pale? Alas! That day is so great there is none like it” – he’s looking right into Treblinka!’ 12 Ted has a bigger surprise in store for me. I know that he’s handed the management of CFOIC over to a local woman called Kimberley Troup, to run in partnership with an American Israeli settler named Sondra Oster Baras. And I know the organisation is thriving, with some forty settlements adopted by churches, offices in Europe and donations to the *

UN resolution 242, of 22 November 1967, called for the ‘withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’. Israel has refused to implement this ruling on the grounds that another clause requires the ‘termination of all states of belligerency in the area’.


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tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. So what is his involvement with Israel these days? ‘I’ve been getting into the environment out there,’ he tells me, ‘I’m working with Israelis, but even more with Palestinians, putting in $20– 25,000 a month. Friends can’t believe it when I tell them the things I’m doing for the Palestinians, but that’s not the point. Jesus has told me “I’m coming back soon and I’m not coming back for a polluted land.”’

Exceptional it may be in its single-minded support of the settlements, but Beckett’s CFOIC is only one of hundreds of Christian Zionist operations devoted to defending the state of Israel. Out in Israel the Christian Zionist scene is much clearer. The twenty-seven-year-old International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) is the kingpin. Acting as an on the spot umbrella organisation for other Christian Zionist groups, it’s also Israeli politicians’ first port of call when dealing with their Christian friends. With its staff of sixty, it claims to be the largest embassy in Israel, after the American embassy in Tel Aviv. More chutzpah. First, this Christian Zionist charity cum political lobbying organisation is not an embassy in the accepted meaning of the word, and secondly, the leaders of the holy city’s older churches deeply resent the ICEJ’s commandeering of the word ‘Christian’ to describe a religious ideology they abhor. Only two of the four words in the ICEJ’s name can be described as accurate. The headquarters of the ICEJ are in Jerusalem, in the salubrious old German Colony, in a large and beautiful limestone mansion and, with supporters in 114 countries and branch offices in 60, it is truly international. The ICEJ was a Dutch initiative. After the Six Day War every country but the Netherlands and twelve Latin American states removed their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in protest at Israel’s prodigious land-grab. When, defeated at last by the Knesset’s defiant declaration that Jerusalem was Israel’s eternal and undivided capital, the last thirteen followed the rest in 1980, a dismayed Dutch Christian Zionist who’d been earning a living lecturing to pilgrims about God’s covenants with the Jews mounted a protest. ‘I believed that Israel would do well without Holland, but Holland might not do so well without Israel,’ Jan Willem van der Hoeven recalls for me, hinting at the old blessing and cursing magic. ‘I felt that God spoke to me – I got such a warm feeling. I could cry now remembering it!’ he says. A wildly flamboyant and talkative man, van der Hoeven explains that his protest generated the idea of setting up a Christian embassy as

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an ‘answer to the cowardice of all those nations who didn’t dare stand up for Israel’. Prime Minister Begin was ‘thrilled’, and soon the ICEJ was not only championing Israel but also promoting Israel’s superpower ally’s antiCommunist activities in Central America. In 1987, ‘God and Politics’, an American TV documentary about Honduras, showed footage of boxes of supplies labelled ICEJ being shipped across the border to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua. Van der Hoeven’s bold initiative had won him instant access to the highest Israeli places. ‘I’ve known the last five prime ministers but I’m closest to Bibi Netanyahu – he comes to eat Shabbat at our house,’ he tells me. The ICEJ and van der Hoeven have recently parted company, but he’s set up another organisation and defiantly planted its brand new headquarters in the West Bank, at Bethel, where God promised Abraham and Jacob that he ‘would give them and their descendants this land as an everlasting possession’.13 The tone and content of van der Hoeven’s newsletters more than explain the rupture. He is far too embarrassing a Christian Zionist to be useful to the ICEJ, an organisation which advertises itself as engaged in nothing more meddlesome than ‘comforting’ Israel and ‘speaking tenderly to Jerusalem’,14 as the prophet Isaiah commanded. A few days into Israel’s assault on southern Lebanon in July 2006, while a bewildered Ted Beckett was merely shaking his head in wonder at the ‘restraint’ Israel was showing, van der Hoeven was informing his supporters, ‘I wish and pray Israel would use this unbelievable political window of [American and British] support to finish the story by taking care of the nuclear reactors in Iran and, if need be, of any potential threat Syria may cause.’ 15 Teeming with friendly young Christian Zionists of many nationalities, the ICEJ is more businesslike than van der Hoeven’s outfit. Its current executive director is Reverend Malcolm Hedding, a white South African. Extraordinarily like Ted Beckett to look at – burly, with a neat moustache and a military air – Hedding walks me through a lobby hung with photoportraits of Israeli prime ministers, into a private meeting room. Shifting his bulk uneasily in his armchair, he treats my first few questions with testy impatience, until finally he asks me bluntly if I’m a Christian. ‘I’m just trying to find out who I’m talking to,’ he says. His question unnerves me. I know just what kind of ‘Christian’ he means; my long-lapsed cradle Catholicism is neither here nor there. The last time I was required to declare my allegiance like this was in the early 1990s while interviewing Bosnian Serb nationalists during the Yugoslav wars. Then I had been at liberty to explain that my job as a reporter


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was not to take sides in a conflict between Christian Serbs and Muslim Bosnians. This is different. Directly questioned, I won’t lie or prevaricate about where I stand on Christian Zionism. The American author and journalist Michelle Goldberg has defined the geo-political situation as I’m seeing it now. The struggle the world is currently engaged in, she argues, is not between East and West, or Islam and Christianity, but ‘between modernity, humanism, reason and progress on one hand, and fundamentalism, tribalism, Puritanism, and obscurantism on the other’.16 Christian and Jewish fundamentalists and nationalists are squaring up to Muslim fundamentalists, with heaven and hell on their minds and Israel–Palestine in their sights. ‘I think you would call me a “secular humanist liberal relativist”’ is how I answer Malcolm Hedding. He relaxes; smiles, even. Now that he has me pigeonholed, he paints himself as a Christian Zionist so political as opposed to millenarian that he condemns ‘theological gun-slingers’ like Chuck Missler and denies that Israel will have to suffer a Tribulation under the Antichrist. Sparing me any Bible proofs whatsoever, he concentrates instead on facts I can note down: ‘Since 1990 we’ve chartered fifty-one Boeing jets to bring Jews of the former Soviet Union home to Israel,’ he says. ‘Our main engine in Europe is Scandinavia, especially Norway’, and, ‘In 2000 we got 14 million signatories to our petition endorsing Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital ... Our annual Jewish Feast of Tabernacles festival is the biggest event in Israel’s tourism calendar – we’re expecting 8,000 this year.’ * The ICEJ’s budget is ‘in the millions’, according to Hedding. The organisation has its own news service and a daily radio programme received all over the United States and it has recently teamed up with the Jerusalem Post to produce a monthly magazine called The Jerusalem Post – Christian Edition. In an effort to tackle Europe, the ‘architect of secular humanism’ and a hotbed of support for the Palestinians, it has co-founded a Christian Zionist lobbying group in Brussels. Christian Zionists increasingly view Europe as enemy territory, fatally infiltrated by Muslim immigration, and as blind as it was in the 1930s to the peril of anti-Semitism. In early 2007 one Christian Zionist right-wing Israeli group – Jerusalem Summit – held a public meeting at the Methodist Central Hall in London’s Westminster at which speaker after speaker urged the British to waste no time in spearheading a religious ‘reconquista’ of the continent.


Over 5,000 attended, despite the Israel–Hezbollah conflict of July–August 2006.

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Hedding, a pillar of that Jerusalem Summit, sketches me a picture of his heavy workload: it involves a good deal of jetting around the globe to present Israel’s case and her bible promises to world leaders. He has just returned from a four-day conference of 10,000 Nigerian church leaders, one day of which was devoted to Israel. He informs me that there are 30 million evangelicals in Brazil for whom ‘a love for Israel’ is ‘central’. On frequent trips to the United States he has become personally acquainted with President Bush and various Christian Zionist congressmen. Someone from the ICEJ – perhaps Hedding – joined Falwell, Robertson and some right-wing American Jews for a meeting at the White House with Bush’s chief in charge of religious affairs, in July 2001. This powerful posse of Israel’s defenders reportedly threatened to ‘stage an evangelical revolt against President Bush unless he threw his support 100% behind the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon’.17 The threat had to be backed up by a warning show of force a few months later. When, in the spring of 2002 Israel’s harshly punitive response to the Palestinians’ second Intifada took the form of a military invasion of Palestinian Authority areas in the West Bank and the bombardment of Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters, even Bush was moved to protest. ‘Withdraw! Withdraw your troops immediately!’ 18 he commanded Ariel Sharon. Detecting the administration becoming ‘a little anti-Israel’,19 Falwell instantly marshalled his troops, to bombard the White House with 100,000 emails. Bush didn’t repeat his command and Sharon didn’t withdraw his tanks. Bush had his second term and the Religious Right vote to consider. When the author Barbara Victor visited the ICEJ a year later, Hedding had been about to leave for Washington on a mission to, as he put it, ‘derail’ the road-map peace plan. He confided to her, ‘I try to explain to the President and to other leaders that unless we deal with the Islamic issue head-on, there will never be world peace.’ 20 Like most Christian Zionist organisations, the ICEJ loudly opposed Prime Minister Sharon’s decision to dismantle the Gaza settlements in the summer of 2005. Warning that Israel was placing herself ‘in grave and serious danger’, Hedding had called on Israelis to devote a day to ‘Humility and Repentance.’ 21 I first visited the ICEJ in the autumn of 2003, at the height of the second Intifada and the start of the war in Iraq, when the number of dollar-bearing Christian tourists to Israel had dwindled to almost nothing. But the ICEJ was still hosting 3,500 for its annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration: large contingents of ardent Christian Zionists from South Africa and Brazil and Norway, substantial delegations from the United States, Germany and Britain, and groups from Indonesia, Estonia, Spain – even Fiji. On that occasion, the organiser of the festival and the ICEJ’s


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spokesman, a young lawyer from North Carolina named David Parsons, pelted me with bible quotes, deployed as if they were legal precedents, and emotive reminders of the Holocaust. ‘We can’t just sit on the sidelines and let Islam lead the Jewish people into another Holocaust! This war is about the Restoration to Zion that God promised! This conflict is prophesied!’ 22 he’d pleaded. After more than two hours of lively discussion we reached a hopeless impasse. While acknowledging that I was a ‘not a bad person’,23 Parsons wondered what was ‘blocking here’, but he didn’t bar me from attending the festival. One evening that week I spent seven sand-blown hours out in the desert by the River Jordan, listening to gigantically amplified Christian rock, eating a sandy picnic provided by a nearby kibbutz, and talking to an English pensioner from Devon who claimed to be a Christian Zionist out of ‘enlightened self-interest’; he wanted to be on the winning side, he said. His wife had been viewing a series of storms battering America’s east coast as God’s punishment for President Bush’s backing of the road-map peace plan. I also spent an afternoon watching most of the festival-goers arrayed in their various national costumes, processing through West Jerusalem with banners reading alaskans for israel or israel you are not alone or british christians for israel, and noted the lukewarm response of the few Israeli bystanders and an exceptionally strong police presence. I passed one evening at a conference centre packed with Christian Zionists – all waving their national flags, all cheering Ariel Sharon as if he were a superstar while he bid them ‘Welcome to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for the last three thousand years and for ever !’ and asked them to visit Israel more often. Every Israeli prime minister since Begin has found time to address this annual event except for Ehud Barak, Sharon’s Labour Party predecessor and – surprisingly, since he energetically courted Christian Zionists while mayor of Jerusalem – Ehud Olmert. One day I joined a predominantly Norwegian group of festival-goers for an ICEJ-run tour of the West Bank by bullet-proof school bus. Our American-Israeli guide, who had been trained in the handling of American evangelicals, read us passages of the Bible to verify Israel’s right to those Occupied Territories – ‘So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you be slack to go in and take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? ”’ 24 We visited three West Bank settlements that had been adopted by American churches via Ted Beckett’s CFOIC programme. In Shiloh I discovered a CFOIC plaque donated by Christian Zionists from Oakland, California. It read: ‘May God’s salvation come speedily and in our day’. In Psagot

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I heard a settler grumbling that so few of us were Americans and instructing any there were to vote for Bush in the 2004 elections. At the third settlement, I listened while a friendly woman from Ohio wondered aloud why the Palestinians didn’t simply remove themselves en masse to neighbouring Jordan. Less exciting were long mornings spent listening to a now familiar mix of Christian Zionist preaching and right-wing Israeli propaganda. A Pastor Don Finto from Nashville, Tennessee, sounded like a throwback to Sir Henry Finch or an echo of Ted Beckett when he looked forward to a ‘commonwealth of Israel, of the entire world’. Finto declared, ‘My primary country is Israel, my primary city is Jerusalem and the primary king is the king of Israel.’ Professor Moshe Sharon, formerly a defence adviser to Menachem Begin, now a lecturer in Islamic history, began by answering the burning international question of the day: ‘I think I know where Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction are, and I think the CIA knows where they are; the smoking gun is in Syria.’ No evidence, no argument, just the allegation. Another preacher informed us that ‘in touching Jews we touch the “apple of God’s eye” – not a Cox’s Orange Pippin or a Golden Delicious! – but the iris of his eye’, the most sensitive part of God. The chairman of the Knesset’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee explained why the Oslo Peace Accords had been a mistake from the start. A Rabbi Risskin asserted that the United Nations was ‘ruled by terrorist countries’. I was sorry to miss the ICEJ’s 2004 celebration. Its guest of honour, the gaffe-prone Pat Robertson, caused a rumpus by sharing his conversionist agenda with the festival-goers. ‘I’ve met wonderful Jews in Siberia, Brazil, the US and here in Jerusalem who are all saying “Yes Jesus, you are our messiah”,’ he told them, before admitting he wouldn’t dream of saying the same to Israeli politicians. Parsons, the ICEJ’s spokesman, confided to one reporter that Robertson’s views were ‘off’, exasperatedly adding that – unlike Pat – the ICEJ was based ‘here in Israel, refining the message’.25 Another speaker, the extreme right-wing Israeli politician, Dr Yuri Shtern, politely protested about Robertson’s remarks. ‘I had hoped a leader of his standing accepted the continuing existence of the Jewish people as part of God’s plan,’ 26 he said.

In that same year, 2004, the same Dr Shtern, a leading member of Yisrael Beitenu, the radical right-wing party that favours maintaining Israel as an ethnically pure Jewish state, established a brand new inter-party group in the Knesset – the Christian Allies Caucus (CAC).


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CAC’s declared aims were threefold: to break down Knesset members’ distrust and ignorance of Christians; to formally recognise the Christian Zionists’ contribution to Israel; and to work at binding them ever closer to Israel in defence of Judaeo-Christian values. Any and all kinds of Christians were to be invited to meetings – former Anglican archbishop George Carey attended one – but from the start Christian Zionists were the focus. Two years in, Dr Shtern’s right-hand man and CAC’s director, a young American Israeli called Josh Reinstein, recalls for me: ‘We started planning CAC back in 2003 but religious Knesset members were worried about evangelisation and both left- and right-wingers worried that Christian Zionists were too right-wing.’ They were speaking from experience. In 2003 the then Republican House Majority leader, Tom DeLay, had made an indelible impression on the Knesset by introducing himself as ‘an Israeli of the heart’ and preaching such a rousing sermon about how the War on Terror being waged against al-Qaeda and Palestinians was a battle between Good and Evil, that even right-wing MKs were shocked.27 ‘Until I heard him speak,’ one had remarked, ‘I thought I was the furthest to the right in the Knesset!’ 28 I ask Reinstein how he and Shtern finally managed to sell CAC to the Knesset. ‘In the end, our “we have no choice” argument won out,’ he answers. ‘How many friends does Israel have?’ Within a month of its creation CAC was proudly presenting to the Knesset Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas, another veteran Christian Zionist, a presidential hopeful and a pillar of the Religious Right. After warning Israelis not to fall for ‘relativism, or lose a sense of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong’, Brownback marvelled at the fulfilment of God’s promise to the Jews to restore them to their land and exclaimed ‘What an awesome God we serve!’ 29 Reinstein points to another CAC success: from autumn 2006 there would be ‘a special section on Christian Zionism’ on the Israeli high-school syllabus. He is less voluble than he was a couple of nights ago while addressing Chuck Missler’s Temple Conference. On that occasion he described the Israeli retreat from the Temple Mount in 1967 as ‘an act of incredible folly’ and went on to receive a standing ovation for telling participants, ‘I look forward to praying with you next year on the Temple Mount!’ – a battle-cry in that company. He looks uncomfortable now when I tell him I attended that conference. ‘I know the Temple’s a major issue with the Christians, but I don’t believe we should rebuild it now,’ he backtracks carefully. Reinstein describes himself as a ‘Zionist’, so naturally he has no

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interest in the Christian End Times story: ‘We disagree with that theology completely,’ he says, ‘but the most important thing is that we agree on the first part of the story.’ He means the crucial, all-trumping, divine gift of all the land to Israel. Reinstein has the right background for the work he’s engaged in. His father was president of the Dallas branch of the hard-line Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA). In 1981, at the age of three, he attended Pastor John Hagee’s first ‘Night to Honour Israel’ in San Antonio. After emigrating to Israel in 1999 he volunteered to join the Israeli army; ‘I wanted to be a fighter,’ he tells me. He first met Yuri Shtern while working as English-language spokesman for his party. Reinstein is a very political animal. He enjoys explaining how, with most American Jews voting Democrat and providing the bulk of the party’s funding, and with tens of millions of pro-Israel American Christians voting Republican, Israel has American politics sewn up at last. Israel can count on stalwart US support whichever party is in power. Of President Bush, Reinstein declares confidently, ‘We have no greater friend in the White House.’ But, I point out, Bush has explicitly declared his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, hasn’t he? 30 ‘Right, but people don’t read between the lines,’ Reinstein replies, referring to the same April 2004 letter to Sharon in which Bush accepted some Israeli West Bank settlements as ‘realities on the ground’: ‘Bush said Israel has the right to defend herself until about ten other conditions that the Palestinians will never fulfil have been accomplished. It adds up to unconditional support for us.’ Reinstein hugely appreciated America’s removal of Saddam Hussein: ‘I don’t think people realise how much of a threat Iraq was to Israel. Now we’re just hoping that America’s up to the challenge of Iran too,’ he said. Josh Reinstein and Christian Zionist Pastor John Hagee are well acquainted today. At a CAC meeting in 2005, Hagee, Dr Shtern, Reinstein and Rabbi Benny Elon – Reinstein’s spiritual mentor, a former tourism minister and an ardent advocate of ‘transferring’ Palestinians to Jordan – hatched a plan to set up yet another organisation, in America. Geared towards co-ordinating the efforts of America’s myriad Christian Zionist groups and persuading the US administration to, in Hagee’s words, ‘stop pressuring Israel to give up land for peace’, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) would function as a Christian Zionist lobbying group on Capitol Hill. Four hundred evangelical pastors signed up. Jerry Falwell, Ted Beckett’s friend George Morrison of Faith Bible Church in Denver, Gary Bauer (a member of the elite Arlington Group and head of American Values) and Christian Right broadcaster Janet Parshall, all agreed to sit on


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its board.* Hagee appointed an American Jew, David Brog, an old hand on Capitol Hill and a powerful organiser, as CUFI’s executive director. President Bush personally endorsed CUFI’s grand launch in mid-July 2006, with a message of praise for its work of ‘spreading the hope of God’s love and the universal gift of freedom’.31 A mighty gathering of 3,400 Christian Zionists from all over America in Washington, that launch coincided with Israel’s campaign to root Iran-backed Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon, so Hagee seized the occasion to declare Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a ‘new Hitler’ who ‘threatens to annihilate Israel with a nuclear holocaust’.32 With American support for Israel running at 80 per cent and President Bush pointedly refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire, Dr Hagee and his ‘biblical imperative’ to support Israel 33 and CUFI’s gala banquet, rally, and day spent lobbying on Capitol Hill were all making headline news. Hagee was profiled by the Wall Street Journal and interviewed on CNN. His new book, Jerusalem Countdown, with its mushroom cloud cover, was flying off bookstore shelves. His right-hand man, David Brog, gleefully pointed out that it had taken AIPAC over fifteen years to gather 2,000 for their annual meeting: ‘the fact that we got over 3,000 to our conference and were turning people away – it sent a message’.34 Liberals took fright when the Nation revealed that CUFI’s leaders had had a series of off-the-record meetings with White House officials, including the prominent neo-con Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, Elliott Abrams, in the past few months. Israel’s Christian friends had reportedly urged the administration to withhold aid from the Palestinians, give Israel a free hand in dealing with Hezbollah and take on Iran.35 Between them, Yuri Shtern’s CAC and Pastor Hagee’s CUFI have made a good deal of headway in the past two years. Two useful new lobbying structures are now in place, one in the Knesset and one on Capitol Hill. Gone are the days when Israel was forced to rely for its Christian support on the personal intervention of the embarrassingly maverick likes of Falwell and Robertson.

In early September 2006 the Knesset’s CAC was holding its four-day annual get-together at a hotel in Orlando, Florida. CAC stalwarts – Reinstein, * Pat Robertson was excluded; Hagee condemned his remarks about Sharon’s stroke being a divine punishment for disengaging from Gaza as ‘insensitive and unnecessary’.

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Yuri Shtern and Rabbi Elon – were there. Pastor Hagee and the ICEJ’s Malcolm Hedding were guest speakers and so was Sondra Oster Baras, the American Israeli settler running the Israel end of Ted Beckett’s CFOIC operation. I first met Sondra at Ted’s suggestion, in north London one wet November evening in 2005. She was on a speaking tour of Britain, so I attended her engagement at the Gospel Centre Church in Wood Green where some twenty-five people, the smallest audience she’d ever addressed, had gathered to hear her. Undismayed by the size of the turnout, Sondra – an excellent speaker and an intelligent and dignified person – gave of her best, tailoring her complicated political points to the level of the audience: ‘You read the Bible? You think it’s God’s Word? OK, so we’re on the same page,’ she began. ‘Abraham was a Zionist’, she continued, before sketching in the biblical terms of Israel’s right to the land. Most of her talk was devoted to what she saw as the tragedy of Ariel Sharon’s decision to uproot the Gaza settlements. ‘If you’re saying the Jews don’t belong in Gaza, you’re saying that the Bible’s wrong,’ she stated flatly. She reported that there were 250,000 settlers fighting the cause. ‘If we were a million we’d be in better shape,’ she admitted, before expressing a wish that ‘ordinary English citizens’ would stand up and declare ‘this land belongs to the Jewish people and to nobody else’. Sondra and I met again in a café in West Jerusalem in the spring of 2006, and talked for two hours before reaching a total though cordial impasse. Instead of bible arguments about God’s covenants with Abraham, she’d wisely resorted to political ones. She blamed my wrong-headed distrust of Christian Zionism and the settler cause on my ‘moral relativism’, my ‘secular humanist dogma’ and my ‘political correctness’. My objection, that she was denying me my own equally valid moral compass, cut no ice. Sondra’s message was clear: people like me had failed to recognise the absolute evil of Hitler in time to prevent the Holocaust. If people like me have our way today, President Ahmadinejad of Iran will, as he has proposed, finish Hitler’s job for him by wiping Israel off the map. By Sondra’s standards my rejection of both Christian Zionism and Zionism in the popular sense of the word automatically made me an anti-Semite, an accomplice of Ahmadinejad’s. Was it simply too late for nuance, I wondered. Did I have to choose to stand either with Bush’s America and Israel or against them? In effect, did I have to be an ally for Armageddon? In a post-9/11 world in which Islamic fundamentalists were blowing up trains and nightclubs from Bali to Madrid, did I have to love the state of Israel, right or wrong, or face living under a Taliban-like regime? Listening to Sondra had reminded me


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of the moral of Joel C. Rosenberg’s The Ezekiel Option, a moral drawn directly from the Jews’ experience of the Holocaust: ‘To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it ... An evil unchecked is the prelude to genocide.’ 36 The essence of this stark message might account for the way President Bush, the neo-conservatives and Prime Minister Blair have responded to Islamic fundamentalist terror since 2001. A book of essays on neoconservatism, edited by the neo-con economist Irwin Stelzer, includes a telling speech by Tony Blair dating back to 1999 and the Kosovo crisis: ‘Appeasement does not work,’ said Blair. ‘If we let an evil dictator range unchallenged, we have to spill infinitely more blood and treasure to stop him later ...’ 37 The use of the words ‘appeasement’ and ‘evil’ with their echoes of the Nazi period is some measure of how closely in tune Blair is with America’s Religious and neo-con Right. My third meeting with Sondra was friendly but brief. I was one of a party of mostly Dutch Christian Zionists she was guiding on a tour of some philanthropic projects the CFOIC was funding in around 150 West Bank settlements. Sondra conducts between fifty and seventy such tours a year – more than one a week – for Christian Zionist groups visiting Israel. The Dutch Christian Zionists were members of Christenen voor Israel (CVI), or Christians for Israel. Co-founder of the new Brussels lobbying group, with a number of international affiliates, CVI is run by an energetic and personable pastor called Willem Glashouwer. Its week-long 2006 conference, held in a banqueting suite of a hotel in West Jerusalem, resembled the ICEJ’s annual festival in content, though the more outré American evangelical Christian tone was less in evidence. Menachem Begin’s son, Dr Benjamin Begin, treated us to an ancient Israelite history lesson. A young Englishwoman living in Israel presented a film called Forsaken Promise, about how Britain had betrayed the pledge to the Jews contained in the Balfour Declaration. ‘I fear that the British people will bring a lot of trouble on ourselves if we don’t change our attitude towards Israel,’ she told us. Curses and blessings. The highlight of the week was a stirring evening address by an eminent American Christian Zionist and close friend of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Mike D. Evans, whose book, The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future, was a top-ten global best-seller in 2004, and whose Showdown with Nuclear Iran: Radical Islam’s Messianic Mission to Destroy Israel and Cripple the US (2006) was number 11 in the Amazon charts two years later. During long hours of strategising and listening to reports, including one on a Dutch initiative to distribute 100,000 tulip bulbs to 82 different West Bank settlements and Israeli army bases, there were repeated expressions

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of regret at British and French resistance to the Christian Zionist creed. There was also a sad admission that the tone of many American Christian Zionists and the unpopularity of President Bush were hampering the spread of Christian Zionism in Europe and the Antipodes. Glashouwer delivered an inspiring speech about being privileged to live in the End Times that would culminate in Christ’s Second Coming, and expressed a longing for the ‘eyes and ears of the Jewish nation’ to open and recognise the messiah. He also reported on a promising field for Christian Zionist expansion in Kenya, where he’d recently been, made a television programme about God’s promises to Israel, liaised with the Israeli ambassador and found a publisher for his Christian Zionist classic, Why Israel? When I spoke to Glashouwer I discovered that his Christian Zionism, like that of the flamboyant Willem van der Hoeven, was rooted in the Dutch experience of the Second World War and the inspiring tale of a Christian Dutchwoman who had opened her heart and her home to Jews fleeing the Nazis. Corrie ten Boom and her family had run an underground network to help some 700 Jews escape the concentration camps. Many of the family paid dearly for their compassion, with imprisonment and death. Corrie herself was deported to Ravensbrück in 1944, but survived and became a family friend of both the Glashouwers and the van der Hoevens. While allowing that Corrie ten Boom’s impulse to help the Jews was accidental and humanitarian in its origin rather than deliberately Christian Zionist, Glashouwer believes that he is faithfully following in her footsteps. ‘She stood with the Jews then, who will stand with them today?’ he asked me. Like CFOIC’s Sondra Oster Baras, Pastor Hagee and the ICEJ’s Malcolm Hedding, Willem Glashouwer was a guest speaker at the Christian Allies Caucus annual get-together in Orlando, Florida, in September 2006.

Nobody could fault Corrie ten Boom, but there are some in Israel today who fault Glashouwer and his American counterparts. Whether Jews or Gentiles, these critics believe that defending Jews is one thing but defending the Jews’ right to inhabit a Greater Israel at the expense of the Palestinians and war ever after is another thing entirely. These are people who insist one can be critical of Israel without being an anti-Semite, people who maintain that the tightening bond between Christian and Jewish Zionists represents a serious danger to Israelis, let alone to Palestinians and, by extension, to the rest of the world. Aside from the Arab Israeli in the Israeli street – the taxi-driver who angrily asked me why the ICEJ was supporting the Israelis rather than the


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Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land, for example – the most strident anti-Christian Zionists in Israel today are the Palestinian leaders of the older Protestant churches in Jerusalem: the city’s Anglican and Lutheran bishops. The most vocal is the fiery Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu al-Assal. On the morning I visited him in his office next door to St George’s Cathedral, he described Christian Zionism as ‘close to being a heresy’. Warming to his theme, he continued, ‘In the first place, Christian Zionists are not serving Israel at all but causing great harm to the Jews and Judaism by supporting them to continue doing the injustices they’re doing,’ he said. ‘Second, it’s a business! They’re making money out of this. You need to ask them how many Christian Zionist preachers they’ve offered free tickets to Israel to if they will bring groups here.’ Bishop Riah told me that the Dean of Washington’s Episcopalian National Cathedral had recently been offered a free ticket to Israel with five-star accommodation in return for accepting the gift of a stone from the Western Wall inscribed with a text from Psalm 137 to mount in his cathedral.* ‘Scared to death’, Bishop Riah had strongly advised the dean to turn the invitation down and sent him instead a stone inscribed ‘Peace from Jerusalem’, in Arabic and English. Between 2004 and 2006 the bishop incurred the special wrath of both Israelis and Christian Zionists by granting sanctuary to Mordechai Vanunu, the Moroccan Israeli who served an eighteen-year jail sentence for blowing the whistle on his country’s nuclear weapons programme in 1986. A few months after our meeting, in the wake of the Israeli–Hezbollah conflict in the summer of 2006, Bishop Riah and the Arab leaders of the Roman Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, and Lutheran churches in the city clubbed together to issue the first formal denunciation of Christian Zionism. The rare involvement of the Vatican in the matter guaranteed the initiative international newsworthiness. The open letter said: The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today ... We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organisations with elements in the governments of Israel

* ‘By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.’

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and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral preemptive borders and domination over Palestine We call upon all people to reject the narrow world-view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others. With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonisation, apartheid and empire-building.38 The ICEJ’s Malcolm Hedding led the Christian Zionist counterattack: We find the paper unbalanced and notably one-sided. It totally ignores the jihadist goals of the Hamas government and turns a blind eye to terrorism perpetrated by this regime ... We feel that we have been treated with disrespect and disdain, and attacked by the issuing of this public declaration ... They present themselves as lovers of justice, mercy, truth and peace. This public attack seems lacking in those qualities.39 Like Chuck Missler and Hal Lindsey, the ICEJ’s spokesman blamed the old Christian churches for what Christian Zionists call their ‘replacement theology’ for teaching that the Old Testament’s promises to the Jews were cancelled out, replaced, by the Christian New Testament’s promises to the whole world. He charged that, between them, the old churches had thereby fostered the centuries of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. And he went further still, accusing Bishop Riah of publicly stating ‘several times that Palestinian martyrs, including Muslim suicide bombers, receive eternal life’.40 The bishop emailed me a firm denial: ‘This was never a statement of mine.’ This unholy powwow is a sign that the cold war between the two Christian camps in the Holy Land – one pro-Israel, the other proPalestinian – which has existed at least since Jan Willem van der Hoeven set up his Christian embassy in 1980, is heating up. There had been warning signs. Two years earlier, in 2004, a proPalestinian Christian group held a Jerusalem conference combatively titled ‘Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics and the Palestine– Israel Conflict’. Addressed by academic theologians and writers from all over the world, including America, it produced a resolution very like the Arab church leaders’ open letter. In an introduction to the book of the conference the Anglican clergyman, Dr Naim Ateek, went a step or


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two further than Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal. Firmly branding Christian Zionism ‘a heresy’, he denounced what he saw as the mutually exploitative relationship between Jewish and Christian Zionists as ‘a tragic hypocrisy’ and Christian Zionism as ‘the worst anti-Semitism one can imagine’.41 One of the conference speakers, the American-Israeli journalist and author Gershom Gorenberg, is equally repelled and alarmed by Christian Zionist anti-Semitism. Author of The End of Days – a book about how the violent End Times hopes of fundamentalists of all three monotheistic faiths centre on Jerusalem and its Temple Mount – Gorenberg has investigated the likes of Chuck Missler and Hal Lindsey and concluded that Christian Zionists ‘don’t love real Jewish people. They love us as characters in their story, in their play, and that’s not who we are, and we never auditioned for that part, and the play is not one that ends up good for us’.42 Gorenberg asks that the rest of the world treat Israel as a nation state like any other; he points out that Dr Herzl’s Zionism had nothing to do with religion of any kind. In a telephone conversation two years after the conference, he highlighted the political implications of Christian Zionists’ anti-Semitism rather than the never-never of their End Times story. ‘They’re steering American policy in a direction that is very, very dangerous for Israel,’ he argued, ‘pressing for Israel to hold on to territory when even the Israeli political middle ground has recognised the need for some sort of pull-back.’ He pointed out that 78 of the 120 seats in the Knesset had gone to members of parties that accepted some form of withdrawal from the West Bank in the last election. Like many Israelis, Gorenberg has made a simple calculation: given the falling Israeli birth rate and rising Palestinian one, it will soon be impossible to maintain Israel as a democratic and majority Jewish state, the safe Jewish haven it was intended to be, unless some territory, with its Palestinian population, is ceded to a Palestinian state. Even Ariel Sharon, the father of the settlement programme, eventually recognised that simple demographic imperative, by dismantling the Gaza settlements in 2005. In insisting on Israel’s right to the land God promised Abraham, Gorenberg argues, Christian Zionists and Jewish settlers are effectively hastening Israel’s end. What could be more anti-Semitic than that? Returning to the Christian Zionists threat, Gorenberg supplied me with a startling analogy: ‘Imagine you have a group of French people in France who consider themselves incredible Anglophiles but are supporting and funding the National Front. Would the average Brit think they were proBritish?’ ‘No,’ I answered him, ‘and there’d be a tremendous outcry, but where’s the Israeli outcry against these Christian Zionists?’

Watchmen for Israel


‘You know what? I don’t think many Israelis think about them because they’re not that much exposed to them. They just see them going round in their tour buses, looking funny. When they’re mentioned in our press there’s usually an underlying snicker. The average Israeli doesn’t know what they’re all about. It’s only American-Israelis who have any kind of a handle on these people – we know them.’ From time to time that quiet ‘snickering’ changes to an audible groan of embarrassment – when Pat Robertson and the Bible teacher Kay Arthur declared that God had had Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin assassinated in 1995 for his part in the Oslo Peace Accords, for example. But the unflinching support of these influential and wealthy people for Israel’s most unpalatable policies makes them far too valuable allies to alienate for long, a truth amply demonstrated in 2006 when Robertson declared Ariel Sharon’s stroke and resulting coma a divine punishment for his sin of ‘dividing God’s land’ 43 by withdrawing from Gaza. For a few days it looked as if the grief-stricken Israelis would register their fury at Robertson’s crass insensitivity by cutting him out of a chance to invest $50 million in a lucrative new tourist attraction for evangelicals: a 125-acre bible theme park, complete with media centre, open-air church and auditorium, beside the Sea of Galilee. But in the end, a fulsome apology was all it took to set the project back on track. Robertson retained the Israel Friendship Award, which the Chicago chapter of the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) had given him in 2002, as well as the award he’d earned in 2004 for bringing 700,000 Americans on Christian Zionist tours to Israel. By the autumn of 2006 his rehabilitation was so well advanced that he was starring in an Israeli tourism ministry TV advertisement. Yossi Alpher, another American-Israeli, an ex-Mossad operative and academic who now co-runs a website presenting both Israelis’ and Palestinians’ views of the conflict, offered me different explanations for most Israelis’ deafening silence on the subject of American Christian Zionists. ‘First of all, these Christian Zionists support Israel in Washington and that’s important for us, but the indifference also has a lot to do with the ambivalence of American Jews about them,’ he told me. ‘We’re not getting any strong message from them to stay away from these people.’ Both Alpher and Gorenberg cited what Alpher called the ‘flip-flopping’ of Abe Foxman, the head of the powerful Anti-Defamation League, as evidence of an ambivalence towards Christian Zionism even among liberal American Jews that has existed in the Reagan era but has greatly increased since the watershed of 9/11. Foxman withdrew his attack on the Christian Coalition for aiming at a theocratic state, but has remained in two minds ever since about the high price to be paid for Christian support for Israel.


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Most Israelis can agree with most Americans on what it will take to neutralise the wider Islamic threat to Israel and western civilisation, but defending Israel against the Palestinians can mean one thing to Christian Zionists and to many American Jews, but quite another to the majority of Israelis and liberal American Jews. More Christian Zionists than Israelis applauded the targeted assassination of Hamas’s spiritual leader in 2004, for example; evangelicals voted 87.5 per cent in favour, the Israelis only 61 per cent. The same survey found that 90 per cent of American evangelicals opposed ceding any land at all to a Palestinian state.44 Alpher first encountered Christian Zionists while director of the Middle East office of the American-Jewish Committee between 1995 and 2000. ‘I was very wary of the way they were spreading their funds and buying friends, so I looked into them to see if they were breaking our law by proselytising. But they weren’t; they showed me how, when they welcomed their plane-loads of Russian Jews to Israel, they were only giving them translations of our Jewish Old Testament. How could I object to that? I even checked that they hadn’t inserted some special Christian message, but they hadn’t. They’re clean.’ Thinking of Ted Beckett’s CFOIC, I suggested that Christian Zionist aid to the settlements was a cause for concern, but Alpher does not agree that those settlements are illegitimate. What ‘infuriates’ him about the Christian Zionists is the way Israeli prime minister after Israeli prime minister has ignored the anti-Semitic implications of their End Times nightmare and addressed the ICEJ’s annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration for mercenary motives. No matter what the American Christian Zionists’ politics, however repellent their eschatology, they remain an important source of revenue for Israel. The year I attended the ICEJ festival the Jerusalem Post reported that the participants had enriched Israel to the tune of some $12 million. In the spring of 2006 CAC’s director, Josh Reinstein, estimated that of the 280,000 tourists who had visited Israel in the previous two months, half were pro-Israel Christian evangelicals. That year the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles netted Israel some $18 million. The planned bible theme park by the Sea of Galilee is specifically aimed at a projected market of a million, mostly American, evangelicals a year. ‘It’s just money,’ sighs Alpher, ‘and they’re cynical about money, like most people are.’

chapter 10

‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’

Nobody has done more than Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to accustom American Jews to the novel notion of teaming up with Christian fundamentalists for the greater glory and safety of America and Israel. If Israelis are not receiving any ‘clear message to stay away from these people’, as Yossi Alpher put it, that’s in large measure because Rabbi Eckstein has been doing a first-class job of persuading his fellow American Jews to ignore Christian Zionists’ End Times schedule and any missionary agenda, and look instead at their no-strings-attached financial ‘blessing’ of Israel. His Chicago-based International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) raised around a quarter of a billion American Christian dollars for Israel between 1995 and 2005.1 My first sighting of Rabbi Eckstein was at a lecture he gave to a small group of American and Israeli Jews in the back garden of a house in West Jerusalem one evening in September 2003. A sporty, boyish man in his mid-fifties, with a self-deprecating manner and a nervous laugh, Eckstein’s charisma was less blatant than that I had come to associate with leaders of the Christian Zionist movement. I couldn’t have guessed that New York’s Forward magazine had voted him America’s third most influential Jew a year earlier (after neo-con Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League) but he was quick to establish his credentials. Set up in 1983, to build bridges between the two faiths, Eckstein’s IFCJ has been facilitating the restoration of Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel since the early 1990s, but also extending a helping hand into every area of Israeli welfare and security since around 2000. It is currently teaching Ethiopian Jews how to drive buses and funding orphanages, soup kitchens, battered wives’ and alcoholics’ homes, a mobile dental clinic and protective equipment for kindergartens and buses in the settlements. It has subsidised a fire engine and a police anti-terror unit and handed out


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hundreds of grants for new immigrants, all with a minimum of red tape and delay. More appealingly known to Israelis as the ‘Friendship Fund’, the IFCJ is now so visible that, as one Israeli journalist put it, it’s ‘hard to find a cash-strapped local authority in this country that’s not supported by contributions from devout Christians from the US via the IFCJ’.2 All Eckstein asks on behalf of his 500,000-strong donor base is that recipients of this largesse should know that the vast bulk of it comes from Christians who have no missionary agenda, who simply love Jews. Plaques and publicity are thanks enough. What better way of breaking down the Jews’ centuries-old suspicion of Christians? What better way of proving that the word Christian no longer equals anti-Semitic? How better for Christians to celebrate a common Judaeo-Christian heritage and heed God’s words to Abraham, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you, I will curse’? More and more would agree; the IFCJ’s income grew by 43 per cent in 2006. Yet far from all Eckstein’s fellow Jews see it that way. One of Israel’s founding fathers, Dr Chaim Weizmann, had clear ideas about the right and wrong kind of Jew; for many Jews today, whether secular or religious, American or Israeli, Rabbi Eckstein is a menace. Some have likened his mediation of this exchange of pecuniary blessings on Israel for divine blessings on America to the medieval Catholic Church’s cynical trade in indulgences. Some have objected to his ‘schnorring’ (begging or sponging) from the Armageddon crowd by skilful use of their coded language: ‘birth-pangs’, for example, refers to the onset of the End Times, ‘ingathering’ is more prophecy code for the restoration of the Jews to their homeland, and so on. Others have accused him of alienating the majority of Democrat-voting Jews in America by currying favour with a Gentile Republican constituency which, as the author Gershom Gorenberg points out, is currently engaged in a dangerous ‘crusade against Islam’. Like most Jews, Gorenberg knows that ‘neither jihads nor crusades have ever been good for Jews.’ Eckstein’s activities have bewildered Abe Foxman of the ADL: ‘We [Jews] have a modern state with extensive social services. And we’re not a poor people,’ Foxman points out. ‘What he’s doing is perverse. And for the Jewish and Israeli leadership to accept his money is also perverse ...’ 3 A few rabbis and a member of Jerusalem’s city council have raised a loud alarm, lambasting the Israeli government for abdicating many of its responsibilities to an outside body whose work is ‘directed towards creating dependence’ and whose politics and eschatology ‘endangers the Jewish existence’.4 While acknowledging that ‘not everyone appreciates the work we do’,

‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’


Eckstein left us in little doubt on that September night that he could afford to ignore all his critics. He had just visited Prime Minister Sharon in his Feast of Tabernacles booth, he told us, and been thanked by him for the IFCJ’s assistance with transporting new immigrants to Israel. Sharon had recently appointed him Israel’s ‘good-will ambassador’ to the Christian world. Jerusalem’s Mayor Ehud Olmert and he were cooperating closely in their efforts to enlist American Christians to Israel’s cause through Olmert’s various charitable foundations. With Ralph Reed, a former leader of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, Eckstein had launched Stand for Israel, another political lobbying group and registered charity which co-ordinates prominent Jewish and Christian Zionists’ efforts to ensure that Israel’s interests are taken into account. Stand for Israel has instituted an annual America-wide day of prayer for Israel by 100,000 churches which receive email and fax alerts on relevant political developments and instructions on lobbying their congressmen. Dropping more names – President Bush, the Attorney-General of the United States John Ashcroft, and Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – Eckstein boasted, ‘We are now in a strong enough position to organise meetings in the White House.’ He was throwing a useful light on the character of born-again President George W. Bush’s ‘faith-based presidency’. That character becomes easier to grasp once one understands that it isn’t only the Pro-Life and family values lobbyists who enjoy the ear of this administration, but the likes of Eckstein, Falwell, Hagee and the ICEJ’s Malcolm Hedding too who’ve been bolstering Bush’s belief that God appointed him to his post and guides his main foreign policy decisions. And it should be remembered that these leading Christian Zionists’ influence is further enhanced by the fact that their Middle Eastern agenda dovetails so neatly with that of the neo-cons in the White House and Pentagon, and of the powerful pro-Israel lobbying body, AIPAC. The exceptionally powerful role that lobbyists play in American politics is common knowledge. In his book Evangelicals, Zionists and Secular NeoCons (2003) Barry Leonardini asserts that ‘the most powerful political forces in America are not found in the White House or the Capitol. Rather, paramount power is found in the lobbies – specifically, the evangelicals, Zionists and military industrial lobbyists.’ 5 But lobbying power is not everything; biennial elections mean that, more often than many national leaders, American presidents have to look to their voter base. Conservative evangelicals, Christian Zionists almost to a man, represented just over a third of Bush’s Republican base by 2004. So, the administration’s off-the-record ‘meetings’ with Christian Zionist


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lobbyists have endorsed the message Bush has been getting from other lobbies, but with added religious value. One might argue that in this Bush’s situation is no different to Reagan’s; Reagan also surrounded himself with neo-cons and Christian Zionists, and demonstrated far more interest in the End Times than Bush has ever done. The difference lies in the external circumstances. Between them, the collapse of Soviet power that left the United States pre-eminent after 1991, 9/11, the perceived ‘clash of civilisations’ and Israel’s worsening reputation across most of the world during the second Intifada are what have secured the ascendancy of Christian Zionism so far this century. Rabbi Eckstein can be credited with pioneering this century’s Christian Zionist push into American and Israeli politics. Those two useful new structures – Yuri Shtern’s CAC and Pastor John Hagee’s CUFI – are only following where Eckstein, as an Orthodox Jew from Chicago, has been exceptionally well placed to lead. For almost thirty years he’s been cultivating relations with evangelicals: attending their National Religious Broadcasters conventions, learning their language and emotional style, and playing down the more lurid aspects of their beliefs while pushing the blessings and curses angle. But what he calls his ‘ministry’ – more evangelical-speak – did not take off until after the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000 began blighting Israel’s economy and costing her international sympathy. ‘Little did I know we would be so important to Israel financially, in terms of tourism and politically, [or] that the situation would arise when the president of the United States would be a born-again Christian and the party in power would be Republican, and the majority of his constituency would be these born-again folks,’ he told the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle in 2006. ‘I didn’t know Tom DeLay [the self-declared ‘Israeli of the heart’] would become the new head of Congress.’ 6 One can almost hear Dr Weizmann saying something very similar: ‘Little did I know that the British War Cabinet would be staffed by bible-believing Nonconformists, or that the Ottoman Empire would be defeated in the First World War ...’ Eckstein might have added that he could never have imagined that a US senator would declare 9/11 had happened because Clinton and Bush Senior had prevented Israel from cracking down hard enough on the Palestinians, and go on to list his most important reason for supporting Israel as, ‘Because God said so’.7 Eckstein must have marvelled when Tom DeLay’s predecessor as Republican House Majority leader, Dick Armey, told a radio presenter he was ‘content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank’ and ethnically cleanse it of all Palestinians.8

‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’


Any Jew watching one of the IFCJ’s lengthy infomercials on America’s Christian television networks will see Eckstein acting suspiciously like one of those ‘born-again folks’ he mentioned. Powerfully emotive and sprinkled with bible quotes, these infomercials are a key to his success. In one Eckstein begins weeping in sympathy with an elderly former Soviet Jewess who feels that in emigrating to Israel she’s ‘coming home’; the sight reduced Pastor Lamarr Mooneyham in Danville, Virginia, to tears and then spurred him to action. Mooneyham’s far from affluent congregation has raised $175,000 for Israel in the past five years. While the rest of the world watched news footage of southern Lebanese towns laid waste by Israeli bombardment in the summer of 2006, Eckstein’s televised appeals for aid for Israel showed scenes of Israel’s far scantier war damage voiced over with Bible texts (including the blessings and curses quote) and Eckstein saying ‘As the world chooses sides against Israel, will you stand on the sidelines?’ Shown eight times a day on Fox news channel, those appeals prompted an average of 1,500 calls every time they aired, and raised $11 million in six weeks.9 A Democrat turned Republican when Bush entered the White House, Eckstein goes a long way towards meeting his Christian Zionist friends on their ground. Europe, he declared that night in Jerusalem, was antiIsrael for the simple reason that it was ‘pretty much atheist’ and heavily influenced by its Muslims. He also revealed that he shared the Christian Zionist conviction that history was approaching the End Times, listing the gathering of Jews into their old homeland, the restoration of the Hebrew language and the establishment of the state of Israel as unmistakable ‘signs of the times’. The post-9/11 world, he told us, was witnessing ‘the birthpangs of the Messiah’. There were echoes of Chuck Missler, Hal Lindsey and Jerry Falwell in his ‘It’s all very scary. The more I’ve come to know about what Israel has to be prepared for, the scarier the situation is.’ Straddling the divide between born-again Christians and Jews, absorbing and emulating all that Christian emotion, while convincing liberal Jews that most American fundamentalists are not interested in either an End Times reprise of the Holocaust or their conversion, is far from easy. The sales of apocalypterature, the End Times flavour of so much Christian broadcasting and the popularity of prophecy experts like Chuck Missler and Pastor Hagee, all tell a different tale. Inconveniently for Eckstein, the mighty Southern Baptist Conference, which represents 16 million American born-again Christians, has explicitly reserved the right to try to convert Jews. And Eckstein was mortified when a New York Times reporter overheard an IFCJ staff member sounding so badly off-message she had to be fired. ‘You know, the truth is, Christians do want to convert Jews,’ 10 was all she’d said.


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Eckstein knows the alliance of Jews and Christians he’s promoting is far from being a match made in heaven. ‘The Torah says something about working with goyim but always keeping one’s guard up!’ was his cheery parting shot in Jerusalem that night in 2003. I was left wondering how well connected and influential he really was in Washington. The IFCJ’s ‘Washington Briefing’ which I attended two years later removed all my doubts on that score.

A gathering of a few hundred of the rank and file of IFCJ’s donor base, this three-day programme of lectures and political speeches being held in the ballroom of a luxury Marriott hotel near the White House is a cross between a public relations exercise and a pep rally. On this first morning I arrive early to watch as the ballroom slowly fills with hundreds of people sporting twinned American and Israeli flags on their lapels. I chat to smartly dressed Christian couples who’ve travelled all the way from Texas and California for the occasion, and to a young air hostess from Maryland who has read all the Left Behind books. A middle-aged woman from Indiana asks me, ‘Don’t you feel privileged that God has chosen you for this special blessing? I can’t imagine not having a heart for Israel!’ In the row behind me are three young men, all in suits and ties. I discover they’re students at Christian fundamentalist seats of higher learning who’ve been approached by AIPAC with an invitation to set up pro-Israel clubs at their colleges. One attends Falwell’s Liberty University. An ebullient Rabbi Eckstein bounces in to open proceedings with a survey of the IFCJ’s triumphs to date. The organisation has spent $80 million on transporting 250,000 Russian and Ethiopian Jews home to Israel and another $25 million on aid to Jews who remain in the former Soviet Union. It is currently involved in 250 different projects in Israel, and will soon be financing the transport of a recently discovered tribe of 6,000 Indian Jews to Israel. ‘The Jewish community does a lot,’ Eckstein concedes, ‘but the two communities – Jewish and Christian – can be a one-two punch that can qualitatively take us further’. This was the first and last mention of charity for the next two days; politics took over. The first speaker is an Israeli journalist who gives us a long, dry lesson in the propaganda art of ‘talking to friends and neighbours about Israel in a more positive light’. I note each practical point of his guide and its glaring lack of religious content. Eckstein leaps up to the podium again, looking embarrassed by the speaker’s failure to mention the main and simplest reason for supporting Israel as far as that roomful of Christian Zionists is concerned. ‘We are blessing Israel so

‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’


we ourselves will be blessed,’ he corrects him and a woman in the row behind me heaves a sigh of relief, murmuring, ‘Right! He gets it.’ Next up is the executive director of AIPAC, Howard Kohr, straight off a plane from Florida. By seizing the microphone and wandering up and down the central aisle of the room, by pitching his speech like a fundamentalist preacher, lively and emotive, he avoids the mistakes of the first speaker. After first attacking Europe for trying ‘to push the road map* on’, he broaches the subject of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons that can reach as far as Tel Aviv and Haifa. The threat of a nuclear Iran reminds him of the older threat of a nuclear Iraq and Israel’s controversial pre-emptive strike against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak plant in 1981. Kohr confides he has a photograph of the bombed-out Osirak, signed by VicePresident Dick Cheney, hanging on the wall of his office and he presses home his point with a warning that Iran needs neutralising like Osirak because ‘Iranians have a capacity for global terrorism that is truly global’ – a notion guaranteed to appeal to the Armageddon crowd he’s addressing. His perfectly judged parting line – ‘God bless us all for what we’re doing here!’ – wins him a standing ovation. Two staunchly Christian Right senators, both of them mooted as presidential hopefuls – Sam Brownback from Kansas and Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania – grace the podium. Brownback, CAC’s first guest to the Knesset, who insisted on reading the Bible during a meeting with Ariel Sharon, bullishly suggests that no one recognise any Palestinian state until Jerusalem has been recognised as the undivided capital of Israel. Rick Santorum uses his platform to address a chief domestic concern of the Religious Right, abortion, before echoing AIPAC’s message about Iran as ‘the next great threat to the United States’. Eckstein then introduces a Reverend Glen Plummer, a prominent African-American pastor, who speaks of a growing pro-Israel feeling among black evangelicals, a feeling whose roots lie in their shared experience of slavery: the Jews under the Egyptian pharaohs, the blacks under the Americans. I want to hear what an intellectual heavyweight among Christian Zionists, the Oxford-educated Dr Richard Land of the giant Southern Baptist Conference, has to say. A few nights ago I attended a press conference at which he divulged that former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres had needed two hours to convince him of the majority Israeli view that a Palestinian state was unavoidable given Israel’s demographic disadvantage.

* A 2003 peace plan for Israel–Palestine, brokered by the US, the UN, the EU and Russia.


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Consequently, Dr Land said, he no longer opposed Sharon’s decision to dismantle the Jewish settlements in Gaza. ‘You don’t bless Jews by asking more for the Jews than they ask for themselves,’ he told those reporters, admitting however to a belief ‘that ultimately the Jews will be back in the land at some point in the future’. His comparatively moderate Christian Zionism allowed him to distance himself from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but it didn’t prevent him threatening that any backing off from Israel on America’s part would lead to ‘a cataclysmic failure of Christian support’ for the president. Dr Land might have been basing that assertion on the results of an IFCJ poll of evangelicals conducted just before the 2004 elections, in which 31 per cent of the sample named US support for Israel as their ‘primary consideration’ in selecting a president and a further 64 per cent cited it as an ‘important factor’.11 Land’s ‘Washington Briefing’ speech is not as revealing as his press conference, but he supplies an interesting historical perspective by fondly recalling how President Truman ‘disregarded the advice of the State Department and Europe and the Arab states and heeded instead the advice of his Baptist grandmother’ in recognising the state of Israel in 1948. And he goes on to supply the requisite slice of personal anecdote by telling us that, aged ten in 1956, he’d been called into the kitchen where his mother was baking biscuits to watch the unfolding Suez Crisis on the evening news. ‘Son,’ his mother had said to him, ‘what you’re looking at is the fulfilment of bible prophecy.’ Summing up American Christian feeling for Israel as ‘a deep religious conviction in our bone marrow, in our genetic code’, Dr Land claims, ‘It’s something you’re willing to sacrifice and die for!’ Eckstein rounds off the second day of lectures with the news that in future he’ll be spending much of his time soliciting financial and political support for Israel among the growing communities of bible-believing Christians in Central and Latin America.* He ends with some pointed wisecracking; no one has mentioned the words Rapture, Armageddon, Tribulation, or even hinted at the Jews’ spiritual blindness, but Eckstein wants to acknowledge that the Christian End Times narrative and the identity of the messiah – Jesus, or a stranger? – are stumbling-blocks to improved Jewish–Christian relations. He demolishes them both with a joke: ‘Everyone knows that Jews and Christians differ in their beliefs about the End Times,’ he says, ‘so we’ll just have to wait and see when the messiah comes, then we can ask him if it’s his first or second visit here.’ Pausing for a first wave of laughter to *

IFCJ has an office in El Salvador, where the average income is $3,100 p.a. Israel’s average income is $17,000 p.a. (Netty C. Gross, ‘Theology Be Damned’, Jerusalem Report, 11.5.2003).

‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’


subside, he raises a burst of applause with, ‘True prince of peace that the messiah is, he’s going to say “No Comment”!’ It seems to me that he’s acquired the facile glibness of Hal Lindsey, Chuck Missler and Jerry Falwell during his long exposure to evangelicals, but his high spirits are justified. To have bagged the Southern Baptist Conference’s Dr Land, and AIPAC’s Howard Kohr and a brace of prominent Christian Right senators for his ‘Washington Briefing’ is an impressive achievement. He’s saving the biggest game for the closing gala banquet.

On this grand occasion I’m seated at a round table for ten, between a woman from Illinois and another from Minnesota. None of us will be ‘stumbled’ tonight; though the decorations are sumptuous and the linens starched a snowy white, the wine glasses are filled with mineral water. The first political giant to speak is Republican House Majority leader and Texan Baptist, Tom DeLay. The man who recommended himself to the Knesset as ‘an Israeli of the heart’ in 2003 and prompted an ex-Mossad chief to remark, ‘Geez! Likud is nothing compared to this guy’,12 DeLay is also a reformed alcoholic, a political protégé of Dick Cheney and a spiritual protégé of Dr Dobson at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. No Christian Zionist has wielded more power than Tom DeLay since Bush’s election in 2000, and none has enjoyed better access to the president. He was the toast of AIPAC’s annual convention in 2002, earning five standing ovations for declaring ‘We should reject the idea that the United States should serve in the Middle East as a disinterested negotiator’, and for saying – although Bush had just pledged his support for a Palestinian state – ‘I’ve toured Judea and Samaria. I’ve walked the streets of Jerusalem, I’ve stood on the Golan Heights. I didn’t see any occupied territory. I saw Israel!’ 13 In the summer of 2003 DeLay’s rejection of a Palestinian state on the grounds that it would be a ‘terrorist state’ earned him a caustic attack from the pre-eminent Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said, in the newsletter: Consider the sheer inhumanity and imperialist arrogance of DeLay’s position; from a powerful eminence ten thousand miles away, people like him, who are as ignorant about the actual life of Arab Palestinians as the man in the moon, can actually rule against and delay Palestinian freedom, and ensure years more of oppression and suffering, just because he thinks they’re all terrorists and because his own Christian Zionism – where neither proof nor reason counts for very much – tells him so.14


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DeLay’s strident opposition to the road-map peace plan and his tight discipline over the lower house’s Republican Majority which earned him the nickname ‘The Hammer’ go some way towards explaining the lack of progress on that peace plan after 2003. He once bragged that the Republican leadership in the House was driving the Democrats ‘crazy’ by making Israel ‘a fundamental component of our foreign policy agenda’.15 In 2005 he went so far as to defy Bush by pushing Congress not to allocate any direct aid whatsoever to the Palestinian Authority, even prompting liberal Jewish-American protest at the lengths he was prepared to go to in order to ‘undercut American and Israeli attempts to achieve a two-state solution’.16 But his record as a busy blesser of Israel guarantees him an enthusiastic welcome at this do, a standing ovation before he’s even opened his mouth. No matter that the top news story today is his indictment by a Texas court for laundering $190,000 and conspiring to violate the state’s election law. No matter that he will have to resign his House Majority leadership and possibly serve a jail sentence. ‘I fear no evil, the truth is on my side,’ he declares to this adoring audience. ‘Justice will be served!’ Former mayor of New York, bastion of American Jewry, and Republican presidential hopeful Rudi Giuliani, whom the IFCJ is honouring with a Friend of Israel award, is next to speak – about the impact of 9/11 on America. ‘Americans came to understand what Israelis had been going through for the last decades,’ he declares, knowing that no one present will have forgotten that when a Saudi prince offered him $10 million for repair works at Ground Zero after 9/11, Giuliani refused the gift; 15 of the 19 suicide hijackers were Saudi citizens. After Giuliani comes Israel’s ambassador to America, Danni Ayalon, an opponent of any withdrawal from the West Bank, no matter how pressing the demographic imperative. He clearly feels himself among friends: ‘When some of us tend to forget our real claim to the land, you will remind us, so keep doing that,’ he urges, before reading out a personal message from Ariel Sharon which praises Eckstein as the initiator of the tightening bond between Israel and American Christians. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat senator from Connecticut, receives the IFCJ’s second Friend of Israel award before cheerfully stating the obvious: ‘There are more Christian Zionists in America than Jewish Zionists.’ Eckstein’s line-up of luminaries tonight indicates that he’s not only reinforcing Christian Zionist support for the alliance with Israel in the War on Terror but also reaching out beyond his natural white Christian constituency to other mainstays of the Religious Right. Senators Brownback and Santorum are both Catholic conservatives. An African-American

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pastor is an interesting departure. The awards have gone to non-religious Giuliani, and to Jewish Lieberman, a Democrat. Tim Goeglein, the man in charge of White House outreach to religious groups, is pleased to report that there is ‘a daily fellowship [religious gathering] of Christians and Jews in the administration’, but even more pleased to deliver a personal communication from the president himself. Dated today, it lauds the IFCJ’s ‘efforts to advance the cause of peace and reflect the spirit of America’. As if that’s not treat enough, there’s a video message of enthusiastic support from the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Pastor Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs, to lead us into some IFCJ footage of Israeli planes landing in a glorious sunset, voiced over with ‘Come home, O Israel!’ Just as everyone is assuming the best is over and has started tackling the elegant desserts, the African-American Reverend Glen Plummer recounts a particularly heart-warming tale of blessing Israel. When he received a phone call from the IFCJ shortly after Hurricane Katrina asking for his advice on which New Orleans church to favour with a $50,000 donation, Plummer immediately thought of his friend Pastor Willy Wooton’s church. On contacting Wooton he’d been astonished to learn that his friend had been holding night prayer vigils for Israel for years and had already raised $25,000 for the cause. Plummer basks in some especially warm applause before signing off with an elliptical ‘Abraham was a friend of God, I’m a friend of Abraham, I’m a friend of God.’ But still, as far as rousing rhetoric goes, the best is yet to come. Gary Bauer, a Republican presidential candidate in 2000, head of the powerful Christian lobbying group American Values and member of the super-elite Arlington Group, is just the man to infuse that Christian Zionist occasion with a lofty religious-nationalist tone that vividly recalls America’s seventeenth-century beginnings and the Puritan pioneer John Winthrop’s anxious hope that the colony of New England would be as virtuous and prosperous and impressively visible as ‘a Citty uppon a hill’.17 Bauer rounds off his call to spiritual and military arms against a post-9/11 threat posed by ‘evil men who worship death, feverishly working in dark places around the world’ with a prophecy to stiffen the sinews of most present here tonight: ‘A hundred years from now the Star of David will still fly over Jerusalem and the Stars and Stripes over Washington – two shining cities upon a hill.’ *

* Ronald Reagan added the word ‘shining’ when running for his second term in 1984.


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America, it seems, needs only one ‘special relationship’, a point not lost on Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the United States between 1997 and 2003: ‘The fact of the matter is,’ Meyer has explained, ‘right now in this crisis the United States has only one special relationship with the world and that is with Israel. All other relationships, including [Britain’s] with them, are in a secondary or even a third category.’ 18 For all the comfort to be drawn from that uniquely tight alliance, an atmosphere of profound anxiety about dark hordes of anti-Semitic, anti-American Muslims and Europeans laying siege to the high, shining cities of America and Israel, mixed with a righteous confidence in God’s protection of his two chosen peoples, suffuses the closing moments of this banquet. One of the female guests rises to her feet and starts singing, ‘While the storm clouds gather from across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free ...’ Here and there around the room a few more stand to take up the song: ‘Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in solemn prayer ...’ As more and more diners rose to their feet to join in, like extras in the ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ scene in Cabaret, my Illinois neighbour reprimands me for continuing to talk to my Minnesota neighbour. At last, everyone is standing, hands linked, eyes wet, and voices raised in that tuneful prayer, God bless America Land that I love Stand beside her, guide her Thru the night, with a light from above; From the mountains to the prairies To the oceans white with foam God bless America – my home, sweet home! This apparently impromptu display is reminding me of a crucial lesson of the last century, one generally lost on religious fundamentalists of all stripes, on political demagogues and Hollywood movie-makers: the phenomenon we call ‘Evil’ does not suddenly spring out of the pages of bible prophecy, ready-made and fully formed, as an Antichrist shaped like Hitler, Stalin or Saddam Hussein. It is present – common and unremarkable as a weed – wherever territorial, political, economic or demographic circumstances disadvantage one group of people over another. I encountered it often enough while a reporter in post-Ceauşescu Romania, in Slobodan Milosevič’s Serbia and Yeltsin’s Russia during the mid-1990s, and am having no trouble recognising its traces here tonight. Its soil and oxygen are

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precisely this pungent mix of fear, injured pride, ignorance and perceived victimhood.

When the entire room rose to their feet to sing ‘God Bless America’ my Minnesota neighbour was telling me about an aspect of Jewish–Christian relations I’d been underestimating. A strange merging of evangelical Christianity and Judaism – in essence, a simplifying process – is under way, one that reinforces the two nations’ ‘special relationship’. A love of the God of the Old Testament, a belief in the pre-millennial dispensationalist End Times narrative and so an overriding concern with Israel, are the hallmarks of this synthetic movement. An elegant young housewife with two children and a husband who loved Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, my Minnesota neighbour had been explaining to me how she’d fallen in love with Israel on a bible tour and been marking the Saturday Jewish Sabbath and all the Jewish holidays ever since. Everything Deanna said reminded me of Susan, a large and cheerful mother of six from Ohio whom I’d encountered two years previously, while on my ICEJ bullet-proof bus tour of West Bank settlements. Susan and her husband had test-driven a variety of local churches before finally deciding, in 2001, to set up their own ‘home group’ – a mini-church of people who shared ‘a heart for Israel’. Every Saturday night six couples, including Susan’s daughter-in-law and mother, gathered to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath and read the Torah, just as Jews do in their synagogues, she’d explained to me, adding ‘There’s still too much of an “us” and “them” mentality when it comes to Christians and Jews – we have to understand that we come out of the same root.’ Back in London a few weeks later I’d received a booklet entitled The Quiet Revival from Susan. I read the first page: There is a religious revival sweeping across North America and around the world. It is a Quiet Revival, one that is reaching into the minds and hearts of both Jew and Gentile, and it is composed of Believers who are coming to understand that it was never God’s intent for the ‘Church’ to replace Israel as His Chosen People, but instead that all Believers are to be grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel, giving each of them all the rights, privileges and responsibilities derived from obtaining that citizenship ... Not only are all Believers now citizens in the Commonwealth of Israel, but because of our relationship with our Husband, Saviour and Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) we also have citizenship in heaven ...


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This Quiet Revival is part of the preparation of God’s people for the coming of His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach to return to this earth as ‘Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords’ (Rev. 19: 16).19 Sir Henry Finch forecast a mighty commonwealth of Israel ... My Minnesota neighbour Deanna and Susan were two random members of this growing movement to eradicate the differences between Christians and Jews. An evangelical Christian belief that Judaism has got everything right except its stubborn rejection of Jesus is what allowed the Left Behind series’ fictional Rabbi ben Tsion, for example, to tell the embattled Jews of Jerusalem that if only they will recognise Jesus as their messiah they won’t be converting to Christianity, only ‘completing’ or ‘fulfilling’ their faith. Jewish adherents of this movement, ‘Messianics’ as they call themselves, relinquish none of their Judaic practices or their passionate allegiance to Israel. While accepting Jesus as their messiah, they have nothing to do with the word ‘Christianity’ or with churches or crucifixes or Christmas trees. Messianic Jews make up a tiny fraction of world Jewry – some 47,000 of a world population of 14 million. Their most visible face today is the stridently missionary organisation Jews for Jesus, which made headline news in July 2006 when its New York campaign to distribute a million Gospel pamphlets reaped a harvest of 157 Jewish and 164 Gentile converts.20 The Messianic movement is growing so fast in America because more Gentiles than Jews are joining it; Gentiles like Deanna and Susan, like the brother of my room-mate Melissa on Chuck Missler’s tour, and like a former US intelligence officer I met at Hal Lindsey’s prophecy conference in Minneapolis. In the opinion of most Jews, however, Jewish Messianics are the wrong kind of Jew, a despised and distrusted fifth column. One critic, a spokesman for the Jews for Judaism organisation, has accused them of ‘cloaking fundamentalist, Protestant Christianity and dressing it up in Jewish clothes and calling it Judaism’.21 Rabbi Eckstein wants to build bridges of understanding between Jews and Christians but will have nothing to do with Messianics. Although herself a Jewish convert to Christianity and a former campaigner with Jews for Jesus, Jan Markell, the organiser of the Minneapolis prophecy conference, is also disapproving: ‘We have three Messianic congregations here in the Twin Cities,’ she emailed me, ‘but the twist is that most who attend are Gentiles. Many are just so Jewishfriendly they go overboard and go back to the Old Testament laws. It’s one reason I’ve pulled back from the Messianic movement.’ The state of Israel endorses this hostility, flouting its own law on the freedom of religion by refusing to grant Jewish Messianics the automatic

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‘right of return’ to Israel, a freedom it extends to anyone else who can prove their Jewish descent. The religious settler, Sondra Oster Baras of Ted Beckett’s CFOIC, voiced the majority Israeli view when she complained to me that Messianics tend to consider themselves superior to other Jews: ‘You can’t be a Jew and a Christian,’ she told me firmly. ‘You can’t dance at two weddings.’ Nevertheless, there are now an estimated 10,000 Messianics in Israel, double the number there were before the wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union started in the late 1980s.22 None of this would matter much to anyone but Messianics in Israel were it not for one crucial fact. What American Messianics and Christian Zionists and some conventional Jewish converts to evangelical Christianity, like Jan Markell and the author of The Ezekiel Option, Joel C. Rosenberg, all have in common is a fixation with End Times bible prophecy, in which Israel and the Jews, whether converted or not, are indisputably centrestage. Messianics trust that they have qualified for the Rapture by converting; they believe in the Tribulation, and in the Battle of Armageddon, and in the thousand-year reign of peace that will follow the messiah’s Second Coming. Few in number they may be, but they make up an especially highly motivated Christian Zionist brigade inside the army of the Religious Right. Reviled and rejected by their fellow Jews, some of them are now making their mark in the parallel universe of the Religious Right. For example, the three main brains behind a controversial new Left Behind computer game that requires players to join the righteous Trib Force battling the evil Global Community cohorts of the Antichrist to save New York are all Jewish Messianics. While in Colorado, I’d visited a friendly African-American pastor named Dr Raleigh Washington who’d recently created a ministry specifically aimed at blessing Jewish Messianics. Behind the idea of the ‘Road to Jerusalem’ was Dr Washington’s friend and colleague, the famous former University of Colorado baseball coach turned evangelical leader, Bill ‘Coach’ McCartney, who has rallied hundreds of thousands of men to Christ via his ‘Promise-Keepers’ ministry. Dr Washington told me that neither he nor Coach had even heard of Messianics until, after a grand service for reconciliation between various Christian denominations in 2001, a Messianic Jew had complained of being left out of the love-in. Contacts were established. By early 2002 Coach had had his vision of a road to Jerusalem; both he and Washington were feeling divinely ‘called to break down the walls between Gentiles and Jews’. A Messianic leader bolstered their confidence by making them both honorary Messianic rabbis and, at a joint service, ‘a lady began to wail and there was a ripple of


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wailing through the auditorium,’ Washington recalled. ‘God was doing something, we didn’t know what ...’ ‘Coach and I realise now that Promise-Keepers was only a training ground for this mother of all reconciliations between the Jew and the Gentile. Black and white reconciliation is a sub-paragraph compared to this!’ he enthused. ‘It’s like buttoning a shirt from the top. You’ve got to start with the top button, and the top button is Jews and Gentiles. We’re both sure that God has called us to raise and manage a mega-trust fund to provide for the poor and oppressed Messianic Jews in the world, but specifically in Israel.’ The Road to Jerusalem ministry had been up and running for a year when I met Dr Washington, but the going hadn’t been easy. ‘Let me tell you something,’ said Washington, with more than a hint of exasperation, ‘the calling of the Road to Jerusalem is like ploughing concrete. There are all kinds of factions among the Messianics. It’s going to take God working through signs and wonders, and he hasn’t unleashed his financial blessings on us yet ...’

The tune of ‘God Bless America’ and Gary Bauer’s eloquent America and Israel as ‘two shining cities upon a hill’ line are still ringing in my ears. But the last had not sounded quite fresh to me. Where had I heard it before? It transpires that Bauer recycled a keynote speech he delivered at AIPAC’s annual convention two years previously, a speech for which he earned no fewer than twelve standing ovations. I’m reading it over again on my way to see him now at his American Values headquarters in a high-rise office block in Arlington, on the south side of Washington’s Potomac River. I can easily imagine which of his finely turned phrases won him all those plaudits: ‘Israel and America are joined at the hip and joined at the heart’, ‘the EU diplomats and axis of weasels have cast their lot’, and so on. But the best lines of the speech are reminding me of Josiah C. Wedgwood’s and Orde Wingate’s virile values, and of the warrior pose struck by Rabbi ben Tsion in the penultimate volume of the Left Behind series, and of Ted Beckett’s recruiting sergeant, Jesus. They [Islamic terrorists] think we are fat and weak, lazy and fearful. They believe our civilisation is in decline and that we are ready to crawl into a corner and die. They believe Israel is no longer capable of producing the kind of people that disembarked from boats from wartorn Europe and went directly to the front lines to protect the infant modern state of Israel as its enemies tried to strangle it in its crib.

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They think America can no longer produce the kind of men we sent to Concord Bridge, the fields of Antietam and the beaches of Normandy. Well they are wrong! – wrong about Israel and wrong about the United States and together, as Christians and Jews, we will show them how wrong they are! 23 For all his bullish rhetoric, close up, in the flesh, Bauer doesn’t look in the least battle-ready. Not just the shortest and slightest, but also the least charismatic of all the prominent Christian Zionists I’ve encountered, he has watery eyes and a damp handshake, I notice, before he dashes back into his office to give another radio station the benefit of his negative thinking on an insufficiently right-wing candidate for the Supreme Court. His secretary apologises: ‘It’s been crazy here this morning!’ Bauer is a master of the Religious Right sound-bite and has been a prominent fixture on the Republican Party scene since his 2000 bid for the presidency, which hit the buffers when his campaign staff resigned in protest at his conducting ‘ill-advised meetings’ with a young female aide. A member of the secretive Council for National Policy and of the inner Arlington Group, Bauer is also a leading light of Pastor Hagee’s new Christians United for Israel lobbying organisation. I have time to note that the volumes on the bookshelf behind me loudly proclaim his various positions: a biography of Jerry Falwell, a work on marriage by Dr Dobson of Focus on the Family and a copy of Professor Samuel P. Huntington’s controversial thesis, the bible of Religious Right foreign policy, The Clash of Civilisations. I ask Bauer if he would call unconditional support for Israel an ‘American value’. Yes, he thinks he would, he says, especially since 9/11, when Americans were shocked at news footage of Arabs celebrating the attacks, while ‘in Israel they were crying with us, and a day of mourning was declared’. On that fateful autumn morning Bauer was driving his car 75 yards from the Pentagon when the hijacked plane crashed. ‘It rocked my car! My first thought,’ he tells me, ‘was for my daughter on Capitol Hill but my second was, this is what Israel has been facing day after day, and the US has sometimes been ambivalent about that.’ A Southern Baptist from Lexington, Kentucky, Bauer claims he was ten or eleven when he first ‘felt compelled to argue’ with his anti-Semitic Christian neighbours on the grounds that their saviour was a Jewish carpenter. By the age of eighteen in 1964, he was an ardent fan of the future president, Ronald Reagan, in whose administrations he ended up working for eight years. Since 1989 he has devoted himself to Religious Right activism for various organisations, including the lobbying arm of


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Dr Dobson’s Focus on the Family and to trying to run for president. AV’s focus, he tells me, is ‘grass-roots emailing’ – 100,000 a day – on matters of concern to the Christian Right, including Israel. He offers me a proof of AV’s effective lobbying. When Israel tried to assassinate a Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi in 2004, President Bush and the rest of the world protested, but Bauer got to work commanding his army to weigh in with support for Israel. Around a thousand emails duly arrived at the White House, all threatening that if Israel was not permitted to defend herself against terrorism as America had been doing since 9/11, they would ‘stay home on election day’. ‘You’ll remember,’ Bauer says comfortably, ‘within a day or so the tone had changed.’ There wasn’t a squeak out of the White House when the Israelis made their second, successful, attempt on Rantisi’s life. Bauer has mobilised his forces to oppose both the 2003 road-map peace plan and Sharon’s decision to dismantle the settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005. Between them he, Ariel Sharon, Tom DeLay and others have been doing everything in their power to ensure that Israel’s decades-old land dispute with the Palestinians is treated as the heroic front line in Bush’s global War on Terror. Just like Rabbi Eckstein, Bauer dismisses the distasteful End Times component of Christian Zionism: ‘When I go around speaking at evangelical churches, that End Times scenario very rarely comes up’ is all he has to say on the matter. He is in a good mood, cheerful enough to share a joke with me, especially one that enhances his image as a major player on the Religious Right. A few nights ago, he was at home, relaxing with the cryptic crossword in the Washingtonian, when he came across his own name, listed with those of various other Christian Right luminaries, as one of the clues. ‘It took me a while to work out the answer – it wasn’t neo-con, it was theo-con!’ I am grateful to him for mentioning the neo-cons. My main reason for contacting Bauer was a wish to establish a solid connection between Christian Zionists and the often Jewish-American neo-cons whose foreign policy agenda has impacted so dramatically on the rest of the world since 9/11. Neo-cons, Jewish or not, characterise that agenda as ‘Wilsonianism with a very big difference’. [President Woodrow] Wilson believed that his goal could be achieved by relying on the persuasive powers of multinational institutions such as the League of Nations. Neo-cons disagree. They would make democracy possible by deposing dictatorial regimes that threaten American security and world order – using military force if all else fails ...24

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It’s an agenda and style of operation that suits rank and file Christian Zionists perfectly. For people who live in prophecy-informed expectation that the Antichrist will arise from an international institution, the United Nations is plain anathema, likewise the European Union. And their Manichaean world-view and immersion in the warlike Old Testament inclines them towards military force as a means of ensuring that their idea of Good prevails. Millenarian Christian Zionists are as sure as political Christian Zionists like Bauer that the Jewish-Americans whose thinking is at the heart of the neo-con project are absolutely the ‘right kind of Jew’. How could they not be when even the high moral tone of the neo-cons’ domestic agenda chimes with their own? Aided by the insights of a Jewish philosopher named Leo Strauss, neocons can go right along with the grand intellectual underpinning of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority push into politics in the 1980s, with the philosopher Francis Schaeffer’s declaration of a war on ‘secular humanism’. Leo Strauss wrote off the Enlightenment and had no qualms about talking and writing in moral absolutes, about Good and Evil. Both the Religious Right and neo-cons agree that properly God-fearing Christians and Jews must unite in a campaign to defend Judaeo-Christian values and rescue America from its fatal corruption by liberal Jews and Christians. Both groups yearn for an omnipotent America, guided by lofty absolutist ideals, and the glorious visions of real-life heroes. Bauer brushes off my question about his neo-con connections with a casual, ‘We go to the beach with the Abrams, and we see the Kristols.’ Elliott Abrams is Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy and he was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s chief adviser during the Israel–Hezbollah conflict in the summer of 2006. Bill Kristol is the son of Irving Kristol who launched neo-conservatism during the Reagan era, but he is also the editor of the influential neo-con organ, the Weekly Standard, and currently a powerful advocate of America launching a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. What Bauer crucially fails to mention is that he, Abrams and Kristol were among twenty-five Christian and Jewish founders of Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 1997. A Washington think-tank with charity tax status, PNAC describes itself as ‘a neo-conservative organisation supporting greater American militarization, challenging hostile governments, advancing democracy and economic freedom’.25 Acting as an ideological nursery for top members of the Bush administration,* the


Other prominent PNAC founder members include Robert Kagan, Jeb Bush,


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PNAC has been identified as the main engine behind what some in the State Department and millions of liberals, including American Jews like the eminent author Joe Klein, lament as the ‘Israelisation’ of America’s foreign policy under George W. Bush.26 ‘Israelisation’, of course, amounts to a firm adoption of Israel’s positions vis-à-vis regime change in Iraq, Iran and Syria, an idealistic but bellicose determination to install pro-Israel, pro-America regimes in their place. Even better positioned than Gary Bauer to ‘bless’ Israel in accordance with these goals was the neo-con John Bolton, the impressively mustachioed and notoriously undiplomatic US ambassador to the United Nations in 2005–6. Bolton was shepherded into politics by Senator Jesse Helms, a passionate Christian Zionist and a hero of Jerry Falwell’s, who once admiringly described Bolton as ‘the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in the world’.27 Bolton is another leading light of the PNAC. As early as 1998 that think-tank was lobbying for the removal of Saddam Hussein and insisting that America’s policy could not be ‘crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council’.28 A year later Bolton was recommending that America have nothing more to do with international law because ‘the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States’.29 A long-serving member on the board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) – a body devoted to strengthening ties between Israel and America’s military-industrial complexes – Bolton has been described by ZOA as ‘one of Israel’s truest friends in the world’ 30 and presented with one of its ‘Defender of Israel’ awards. A speaker at a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy in 2004, he gave the keynote speech at AIPAC’s annual convention in 2006. Contemptuous of the United Nations, Bolton has repeatedly antagonised the organisation since he started work there, once by declaring that there was no such thing as the United Nations and that ‘it wouldn’t make a bit of difference’ 31 if its 38-storey headquarters in New York lost its ten top floors – which include the Secretary-General’s offices. Bolton has proved himself such a good friend to Israel, on the other hand, that his Israeli counterpart has boasted, ‘We [Israelis at the UN] are really not just five Dick Cheney, Francis Fukuyama, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Paul Wolfowitz, Charles Krauthammer and R. James Woolsey. Richard Perle, John Bolton and Douglas Feith have been closely associated with the PNAC.

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diplomats. We are at least six, including Bolton.’ 32 By September 2006, most Democrats and even some Republicans were demanding his removal, embarrassed and worried by his abrasive style and his partisan handling of the Middle East. But Gary Bauer’s website was supporting Bolton’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Bauer and Bolton have been acting as two strong neo-con sinews in the neck that connects the vast body of the Christian Zionist Religious Right to the tiny head of Washington think-tanks and the Bush administration and to Zionist Israel. Here is the nexus of interests whose joint agenda amounts to keeping America and Israel great by confronting the ‘evil’ of fundamentalist Islam with overwhelming force. This powerful coalition, lethally composed of both rational and irrational forces, is what Europe is allied to.

President Bush’s dealings with Israel since 2000 – his stalling over the 2003 road-map peace plan and his 2004 acceptance that the settlements have created ‘realities on the ground’ – have earned him the right to call himself a political Christian Zionist, but was he also a millenarian Christian Zionist, I wondered. Was the ruler of the world’s single superpower as much in thrall to the nightmare of Armageddon as his trustiest Religious Right supporters? One afternoon in the autumn of 2005, shortly after Rabbi Eckstein’s three-day jamboree, I sat outside a Starbucks on a windy corner a stone’s throw from the White House, gaining a useful insight from an accredited White House correspondent, a handsomely suited young Texan Christian Zionist named Bill Koenig. Koenig had first come to my attention by way of his Internet news service which purveys ‘Christian News, reported from the White House, focussing on Israel’. His scored 20.5 million hits in 2005 and boasts subscribers in all fifty American states, including 1,500 pastors each with church memberships exceeding 3,500. In the usual way of Christian Zionist sites, Koenig’s offers its own peculiar slant on the world by filtering current affairs through bible prophecy. In 2005 he was monitoring Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Olmert, Netanyahu, Pope Benedict XVI, assorted Middle Eastern and European leaders, Tony Blair and Prince Charles. The site listed ‘events we watch’ as ‘wars and rumors of wars, economic news, military build-ups, difficult relations between countries, famines and natural disasters, and drastic or record-breaking weather’. Koenig is a busy man. A quick scroll through his schedule for 2006–7 reveals that he attended both CUFI’s inaugural meeting at Pastor Hagee’s


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church in San Antonio and the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Dallas, in February 2006. He’s doubtless honing his message for a prophecy conference in Idaho where, I notice, he’ll be sharing a podium with Chuck Missler and Dr Tommy Ice of Liberty University’s Pre-Trib Research Center. Clicking on a link I discover his talk previewed as ‘Fascinating details and insight into the most powerful political location in the world! Incredible!’ and Chuck’s as ‘Wow! Get all the fascinating details that make the End Times events look ever so close. Nobody does it better. Riveting!’ I see that Koenig will be cruising the Caribbean with a party of Messianics in a few weeks’ time, and speaking again, at a threeday prophecy conference over New Year. A star of the prophecy conference circuit, the only millenarian Christian Zionist who can claim to be plugging ‘the Armageddon crowd’, as their detractors call them, straight into the power socket of the White House, Koenig has five prophecy conference dates scheduled for 2007. He’d come to my notice a second time at Hal Lindsey’s Minneapolis prophecy conference, where a tall stack of his latest book, Eye to Eye: Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel (2004) had been shrinking even faster than Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth. He brought a copy of Eye to Eye along to our meeting. The cover showed a worried-looking President Bush, with his gaze shifted left, in the direction of a Star of David set in the swirling eye of a hurricane. Published at Koenig’s own expense, the work had sold some 27,000 copies, he told me, and was being translated into Hebrew. According to the book’s introduction, Koenig had set out to ‘document what happens the same day or within 24 hours of Israel being pressured to divide her land’.33 The bulk of the work was therefore a detailed catalogue of divinely engineered disasters that had resulted every time a US president, but especially George W. Bush, had attempted to rein Israel in, or push for a peace plan or advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. Koenig maintained, for example, that within twenty-four hours of an announcement that Bush was planning to get more involved in the Israel– Palestine peace process, God vented his rage at the move by smashing up the space shuttle Columbia over Palestine, Texas. In Koenig’s view, a meeting of the sponsors of the ‘road-map peace plan’, in May 2003, earned much of the world a punishing heat wave that summer. Koenig was in no doubt about the significance of such events and how to prevent their recurrence: Message: God’s covenant land is Israel’s and cannot be traded for promises of peace and security. Furthermore, those nations who sponsor

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and promote the ‘land for peace’ efforts will continue to be judged and pay the consequences (Joel 3:2).* Solution: The US should stop the sponsorship of the ‘land for peace’ effort and tell the world community that the US will stand with Israel to help insure her future and that her land is not to be given to the Palestinians, Syrians or any other Arab nation. If the United States doesn’t do this, further devastation will come to America and any other nation that continues exerting pressure on Israel to participate in the ‘land for peace’ process.34 The appendix to Eye to Eye contained an interesting record of some correspondence between Koenig and President Bush. Koenig’s first letter, sent within a few weeks of 9/11 and copied to Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove and Bush’s Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, informed the president, ‘With all due respect, America is now experiencing the consequences (curses) of Middle East policies which have been opposed to God’s word and the preservation of His covenant land.’ 35 Bush’s reply was a short thank-you, followed by an impersonal ‘I welcome information from Americans across the country and I value your input.’ 36 In March 2002 Koenig wrote again, enclosing a copy of his first book Israel: The Blessing or the Curse, mentioning that he’d forwarded two copies of it already, one via a friend of Bush’s parents, the other to Laura Bush, via an old friend from Texas. ‘Please understand, Mr President,’ Koenig stressed, ‘that I am fulfilling part of my calling, which is to warn you, and those who advise you, about the seriousness of any pressure on Israel to give up her Covenant land.’ 37 Bush’s reply was much warmer this time, with greetings from Laura and the news that he’d received the copy forwarded by his parents’ friend. ‘As we strive for lasting peace in the Middle East, I am continually impressed by the deep historical context of this conflict,’ he confided. ‘I appreciate your gift of a book that addresses the different aspects of this situation.’ 38 Vice-President Dick Cheney acknowledged receipt of his copy with a fulsome ‘I very much appreciate your thoughtfulness. Lynne joins me in sending our best wishes to you.’ 39 I was reassured to learn that if the president of the free world was *

‘I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land.’


1948 onwards

sending personal messages of support to Pastor Hagee’s and Rabbi Eckstein’s Washington jamborees, he was clearly not sufficiently engaged by Bill Koenig’s works to respond with his own take on bible prophecy, let alone summon Koenig to the Oval Office for a one-on-one meeting. He didn’t answer Koenig’s third missive, perhaps because it told him nothing he didn’t already know: ‘You are the man the Lord has chosen for this hour, it is incredible to see how our Lord has positioned you at the most crucial time in biblical history. The United States is so blessed to have you as our president and your administration representing us.’ 40 My first question to Koenig as we sat on that street corner drinking our long lattes was, ‘I hear White House press passes are hard to come by; how did you get yours?’ ‘It’s gotten much harder since 9/11,’ he admitted, ‘but I was lucky – the Texas mafia in there helped me.’ He needed no more prompting to detail the advantages the pass gave him. ‘The press room is only about 75 feet from the Oval Office, which means I miss out the usual chain of command and get my books and letters right on the desks of the secretaries.’ Koenig was still marvelling at how, within forty-eight hours of Hurricane Katrina hitting Louisiana, God indicated that the ideal moment had arrived to distribute copies of his Eye to Eye – with its arrestingly relevant cover design – right to where they were needed. Karl Rove had already told him that it looked like ‘an interesting read’. I asked Koenig where Bush stood on Israel and bible prophecy, and wasn’t surprised to hear that the president was not nearly pro-Israel enough for him. ‘He’s aware of prophecy. He certainly knows about it, but he can’t come to grips with it. He still hasn’t understood that Israel’s better off left alone. When the Israelis are allowed to look after themselves, things go better. The more pressure we put on Israel, the worse it gets in Iraq.’ I understood two things. First, when Koenig said Israel was better off left alone he was not recommending any withdrawal of $3.5 billion of aid a year to Israel, or advocating any rupture between America’s and Israel’s intelligence communities, or suggesting that America abandon its stalwart support of Israel in the UN’s Security Council. No, he was merely asking the US to bless Israel by giving her leaders carte blanche to take whatever measures they deemed necessary for Israel’s survival, inside and outside her borders. Secondly, Koenig was accepting the miserable progress of the War on Terror in Iraq as God’s just punishment on America for her, however negligible, efforts to broker a peace in Israel–Palestine. But everything that had happened was prophetically ordained and therefore welcome, as a happy validation of Koenig’s Christian faith. ‘We

‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’


are seeing a rapid escalation of prophetically significant news events,’ he told me excitedly: ‘the more Bush tries to democratise the Middle East, the more involved Russia becomes.’ Like Hal Lindsey, Pastor John Hagee and the novelist Joel C. Rosenberg, Koenig was bearing the prophet Ezekiel in mind. Next, I asked him how – given the demographic issue – Israel could hold on to all her God-given land and still remain a democratic Jewish state. ‘Oh,’ he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, ‘you know what the problem is? The Israelis are aborting left, right and centre. That demographic problem’s their own doing!’ But Koenig needed me to know how much he loved Israel and the Jews. ‘I can’t think of another country where people keep a track of how many times they’ve been,’ he mused. He’d made two visits there already that year. During one of them, the Lord had helped him find just the right occasion to present Benjamin Netanyahu with his complimentary copy of Eye to Eye. ‘I tracked him down at a fund-raiser in Ariel [a large West Bank settlement]. It so happened that his eyes were giving him trouble, so a doctor there was checking him for anaemia. Right at that moment I handed it over – it made him laugh.’ Koenig loves Israel so much he’s often wondered if he hasn’t got a drop of Jewish blood in him. Recently, he told me, he and his wife had gone so far as to have DNA tests, and been thrilled to discover that while he was an Ashkenazi on his father’s side, she was Sephardi through a Mexican forebear. It struck me that for Netanyahu, for a minority of Israelis and American Jews, and for the vast majority of Christian Zionists, Bill Koenig could pass as precisely ‘the right kind of Jew’.

chapter 11

Talking Texan

In the summer of 2006 Reverend Jerry Falwell was defending Israel’s bombardment of southern Lebanon in terms that made sense to most Americans:* ‘If someone were to lob missiles over our cities from either Canada or Mexico,’ he reasoned, ‘I have no doubt that we’d make black swimming pool holes over whoever did it. And if someone didn’t like what we did, we’d probably talk a little Texan to them ...’ 1 Harking straight back to the Puritan ethos of Old Testament eyefor-an-eye justice, of us and them, good and evil, black and white, the language Falwell imagined talking to Hezbollah is rooted in the culture of descendants of the Puritan Scots who subdued the Irish for Cromwell and then departed for the western extremity of the New World in the early nineteenth century. The idiom of hard men engaged in wresting the Wild West frontier of the future United States, first from its indigenous American-Indian inhabitants and then from Mexicans, Texan is pithy to the point of callous, in-your-face and frequently humorous. As much a mentality as an idiom, Texan simplified and sensationalised John Nelson Darby’s abstruse pre-millennial dispensationalism to make it the gun-slinging, Armageddon-fixated ideology it is today, the prevailing belief system of the American South. Described by the Texan historian and journalist Michael Lind as ‘a provincial museum of dead British ideologies’ 2 but known to most Americans as ‘the Bible Belt’ – the vast area stretching south from Virginia all the way west as far as Texas – is now ‘Israel’s safety belt’.3 Texan is the lingua franca of Christian Zionism, whether millenarian or * A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found that 59 per cent of Americans thought Israel’s action justified. To compare, a YouGov/Telegraph poll found only 17 per cent of British condoned it, while in Germany the figure was 12 per cent.

Talking Texan


not. Former House Majority leader and ‘Israeli of the heart’, Tom DeLay, and Dr Tommy Ice at Falwell’s Liberty University, and Bill Koenig, the White House correspondent, are all native speakers. Two Virginians, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and two Californians, Hal Lindsey and Chuck Missler, are fluent in the language. So is Ted Beckett from Colorado Springs, after years spent in the Lone Star State. Ardent neo-cons, John Bolton at the United Nations and Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon speak it exceptionally well. President Bush himself memorably resorted to the patois of his home state when he promised to capture Osama bin Laden, ‘dead or alive’, after 9/11. Texan is closely related to the language spoken by members of another pioneer-built society. Hebrew-Texan is what Israelis of the Jabotinsky persuasion have been speaking to the native inhabitants of Israel–Palestine for more than half a century. Avigdor Lieberman, the Soviet-born radical right-winger whose Yisrael Beitenu party aims at an ethnically pure Jewish state, speaks it particularly well. He has delighted the disaffected Russian immigrants who make up the bedrock of his support by recommending that Israel operate in Gaza ‘like Russia operates in Chechnya’ 4 and demanded that any Arab-Israeli members of the Knesset who speak to Hamas leaders be executed, as ‘collaborators’ were at Nuremberg. When Prime Minister Olmert invited Lieberman to join his government as Minister for Strategic Threats in October 2006 a writer for the liberal newspaper Ha’aretz dubbed Lieberman himself ‘a strategic threat’ and likened him to Rasputin.5 After Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he served as chief of staff in the late 1990s, Lieberman is probably Christian Zionists’ favourite Israeli politician. In 2004, it was members of Lieberman’s party – Dr Yuri Shtern* and the young rhetorician of Chuck’s Temple Conference, Josh Reinstein; and another noisy advocate of ridding Israel and the West Bank of its Palestinians by transferring them to Jordan, former tourism minister Rabbi Benny Elon, MK – who established the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus and suggested that Pastor John Hagee form Christians United for Israel (CUFI). The most prominent Christian Zionist churchman in America today, Pastor Hagee speaks excellent native Texan. Hagee has described the Bible’s blessings and curses quote as ‘God’s foreign policy statement’ and declared support for Israel a ‘Bible mandate’. CEO of Global Evangelism Television Inc., whose programmes are beamed worldwide on 150 stations, Hagee has been televangelising about blessing Israel twice a day for the past twenty-eight years and hosting a gala ‘Night to Honour Israel’ at his 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio every year since 1981.


Shtern died in November 2006.


1948 onwards

Hagee’s best-selling bible-prophecy book, Jerusalem Countdown (2006), calls for an immediate war against Iran. The July 2006 Washington launch of his CUFI – with its razzmatazz, publicity (favourable and otherwise), $500,000 banquet, endorsement from the Oval Office, and follow-up meeting in the White House – has set the seal on his pre-eminence. My survey of Christian Zionism wouldn’t be complete, I decided, without a final trip to Texas, to see him. If Hagee and Texas couldn’t account for the fact that tens of millions of Americans have adopted an ideology that fills much of the rest of the world with a mixture of disbelief and alarm, then probably no one and nowhere could. On discovering that the mighty patriot-pastor of Cornerstone would shortly be hosting a threeday extravaganza of music, dance, drama, lectures and services to mark his 25th Night to Honour Israel and the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, I made some plans. There were other Christian Zionists to investigate in Texas. After flying into Dallas, I’d first drive west, to the far side of Fort Worth, to satisfy my curiosity about an oilman who feels called by God to spend millions drilling for black gold in Israel with which to enrich and secure the Jewish state, before heading south to San Antonio on the Interstate 35. About an hour’s drive short of Hagee’s home town, in San Marcos, I’d have lunch with the leading Christian Zionist authority on that most incendiary item on the prophetic agenda, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. A tightly scheduled interview with Pastor Hagee followed by a weekend of pro-Israel celebrations were firm fixtures in San Antonio, but the rest I would leave to chance. I hoped to find Texans who would confirm my impression that pleasurable relief from boredom, by way of an escape into a disastermovie scenario with a happy Rapture ending for good born-again guys, accounted for the spread of Christian Zionism in the United States. But I also needed to test my deeper hunch that fear – grounded in a sense that America’s days as a superpower with God’s Most Divinely Favoured Nation status are numbered, unless America ‘blesses’ rather than ‘curses’ the Jews – was the biggest engine driving the ideology. Fear, of course, is at least as powerful a motivator as pleasure.

With time to kill before my appointment with the Texan oilman, I headed to the nearest mall, to a Christian bookstore, for some relevant reading material. Two new works by that star of apocalypterature, the pop prophet, Jewish convert to evangelical Christianity and wonder of the White House Joel

Talking Texan


C. Rosenberg, immediately caught my eye. The first, the sequel to The Ezekiel Option, was about Israel’s decision to rebuild the Temple and the subsequent race to prevent any Muslim locating the Ark of the Covenant concealed deep beneath the Temple Mount. The second was a work of non-fiction in the style of Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, entitled Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East will Change your Future. A glance at Epicenter’s list of contents revealed that Rosenberg was confidently predicting our newspapers’ ‘future headlines’ on the basis of bible prophecy. Before the Russo-Arab war against Israel which Ezekiel prophesied, and which Rosenberg had described in The Ezekiel Option, he was forecasting the discovery of vast oil reserves in Israel. After Ezekiel’s war, Rosenberg was claiming, we would see Iraq emerging as a regional superpower, at which point the Jews would begin rebuilding the Temple and earthquakes and plagues would rock the entire world, and many Muslims would convert to Christianity. All of these things, Rosenberg was confidently predicting, had to occur before the Rapture, before the horrendous seven years of suffering that would inexorably end in the Battle of Armageddon and Jesus’s Second Coming. Impressed by a male store assistant’s enthusiasm for Rosenberg’s writings, I bought both books. The rebuilding of the Temple was the business of my lunch meeting the following day, but the discovery of oil in Israel was of immediate interest. Epicenter made much of a recent flurry of news stories that the Jews might not, after all, have been laboriously led through the wilderness by Moses to the only Middle Eastern land without oil riches, as Prime Minister Golda Meir once blackly joked. Rosenberg was citing Genesis – ‘blessings of the deep that lieth under’ – and some Deuteronomy, and a verse of Isaiah – ‘the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places’ – to prove his point that there must be oil in Israel.6 It was no surprise to discover that the Israel he’d depicted in his new novel was already fabulously oil-rich. For all those encouraging signs, however, for all the biblical clues and Rosenberg’s bold imaginings, no significant oil find has yet been made. Israel will not be self-sufficient in fuel, let alone in a position to redraw the geo-political map by replacing the Muslim Middle East as home to the bulk of the world’s oil reserves any time soon. Only one Israeli consortium and two Texan Christian Zionists – one of whom I was about to meet – were risking any investment in exploration there. The headquarters of Ness Energy International Inc. (ness being Hebrew for ‘miracle’) was a large single-storey log cabin, appealingly located among some trees, by an access road off the Interstate 30.


1948 onwards

Sha Stephens – ‘Sha’, pronounced to rhyme with ‘day’ – received me informally, in a T-shirt and jeans, in an office cluttered with family photos. Another large man, Sha was, as he modestly explained, the son of a far larger man, the late Hayseed Stephens. Stephens Senior had been a person whose presence ‘could light up a room’, a man whose pursuit of a biblebased dream of finding oil in Israel had cost him millions of dollars and, eventually, his life. Hayseed had first visited Israel in the early 1980s. Swept up in Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s charm offensive to win the hearts and minds of influential American Christians for Israel by inviting them to meet him, Hayseed had been a member of a tour group of Christian businessmen, led by the Texan Christian Zionist writer, Mike D. Evans. The quintessence of a Texan oilman, sporting his ‘signature white cowboy hat’, Hayseed was duly charmed by Begin, especially when the prime minister confided in him that the only times he feared for the security of his country was when an episode of the gigantically popular Texan soap opera Dallas was on television. Begin then suggested that Hayseed might be the man to find oil for Israel. A visit to Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust Memorial, the next day made Hayseed ambitious to be numbered among an elite of righteous Gentiles like Corrie ten Boom. Pledging his life to the service of God and Israel, he set about finding Israel her oil. ‘Dad was all or nothing – go big, or go home!’ his son remembered fondly. Sha related how, for the next twenty years, Hayseed jetted to and fro between Dallas and Tel Aviv, pouring millions of dollars into abortive drills in Israel, driving a white Mercedes and consorting with Ariel Sharon, with whom he shared a military background and a love of ranching. When back in America, he’d tirelessly toured the country as a lay preacher in churches and at prophecy conferences, collecting Christian Zionist investors in his company by spreading the good word about Israel’s oil, with reference to the same Bible verses I’d just read in Rosenberg’s Epicenter. ‘I have to say I really resented Israel most of that time,’ said Sha. ‘Dad was always away and the domestic company was going broke because he kept taking money out of it for the Israel project.’ But by the time Hayseed – exhausted by his efforts on Israel’s behalf – died, in 1991, at the tender age of sixty-four, Sha had already revised his opinion of Israel, found God and promised his mother he would continue the great quest. ‘Any way you look at it, Jerusalem’s the centre of the universe,’ he told me, ‘and Jewish culture is just so neat, so cool.’ He particularly liked

Talking Texan


the way they respect family: ‘they understand lineage, the passing of the mantle from father to son’. A father now himself, of twin teenage sons named Joshua and Seth, Sha proudly recounted how one of them had recently written a school essay on the theme of ‘tenacity’ in which he’d detailed his grandfather’s and father’s long quest to bless Israel with oil, and announced his intention to follow in their footsteps. ‘This is a long-term project then? From generation to generation ...’ Yes. Sha inherited around 6,000 of his father’s Christian Zionist shareholders, and explained to them that they shouldn’t invest in Ness Energy International Inc. if they’re hoping for quick or big returns. Reminding them that Genesis 12: 3 – blessings and curses – should be their principal motivation, he’s tried to reassure them by explaining that whereas his father had only his bible for a guide he, Sha, is bringing the very latest scientific know-how to the search. ‘We just have to get the right combination to unlock the treasure chest,’ he tells them. ‘You’re sure there is oil in Israel, in commercial quantities?’ I asked him. ‘I’ve never doubted it,’ he said. ‘You only have to look at all the Bible clues and at where Israel sits in that oil-rich region. It’s only now I’m starting to ask myself why no one’s found it yet. I’m starting to wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the only Israeli company with all the equipment for hire is only out to rob, rape and pillage ...’ While Sha complained that a job costing a million dollars in Texas costs four million in Israel, I recalled Pastor Adams’s Regenerators and the mid-nineteenth-century Christian Zionist whom Herman Melville encountered, the collision of American dreams with harsh Middle Eastern realities. Sha had other bitter complaints about Jewish business practices. ‘They want to be very Western in their practices, but they’re not,’ he told me. It seemed that a Jewish-American investor in New York had recently led him on with talk of investing millions, only to pull out at the last minute. ‘Where do you think the oil is?’ I asked him. Sha’s reading of the Bible, combined with his interest in history, had convinced him there must be black gold under the southern end of the Dead Sea, where the ancient towns of Sodom and Gomorrah stood until the God of the Old Testament punished them for their sins of rape, sodomy and bestiality by obliterating them in a storm of ‘brimstone and fire’.7 Brimstone is burning sulphur, so Sha believes a theory that, when God arranged for the area to be hit by an earthquake, deposits of sulphurous oily bitumen lying under the Dead Sea gushed up through the fault-line


1948 onwards

and were ignited by a stray spark, before falling back to earth in a fiery, smothering blanket.8 ‘There have got to be aromatic hydrocarbons under there,’ he told me. ‘You have to know that the inhabitants of those two places were harvesting that pitch from the Dead Sea and selling it to the camel trains travelling down the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. Sodom and Gomorrah were like the world’s first oil and gas boom towns here in Texas. They were rich! But they fell into sin and corruption. We Texans know how easily that can happen! People make a lot of money and there’s not a whole lot to do with it, so they fall into sin ...’ ‘How long do you think it’ll be before you strike oil, before any of your investors see any dividends?’ ‘I’m thinking it’ll be five years before we hit something big ...’ ‘What are you basing that on?’ ‘Nothing. I don’t have anything to base that on,’ he admitted. ‘This all has to happen in God’s timing. Right now, we’re just taking baby steps, but I’m not worried. I know I’m where God wants me to be right now. I sleep well at night.’ Blessing Israel had shortened Hayseed’s life and it has already cost Sha his marriage; like his father before him, he’s been spending long periods in Israel. But his small staff back him to the hilt, as I discovered while I sat in the reception area, perusing a work entitled Why Bless Israel? How the Jewish Nation is Key to Unleashing God’s Blessings in the 21st Century and another called God’s Word for the Oil Patch: Fuel for the Soul. A staff member, a part-time policeman and computer wizard, approached me and delivered a short lecture on ‘catastrophic geology theory’ before assuring me, ‘Even if we don’t find oil in Israel, I’ll be sure that God has led me here to Sha. For the first time in my life, I know I’m in the right place, doing the right thing.’ As I headed south in the direction of Waco and San Antonio, I decided that Sha Stephens’s Christian Zionism probably had as much to do with filial piety as with boredom or fear.

Filled with monster trucks thundering to and from Mexico, the Interstate 35 was uninspiring. Once I had appreciated a sky wider than any I’d seen since I’d lived in Russia, and amused myself by casting Texas as America’s Siberia – same sky, same flat frontier land, equally extreme climate and fabulous mineral wealth, same repository of virile virtues, same propensity for lawlessness, same hostility to encroaching southern hordes (Mexicans rather than Chinese), same gigantic distance from the nation’s capital and,

Talking Texan


last but not least, the same penchant for religious extremism – I was ready to take a break. Waco was in sight. If I came off at the next exit I could find a tourist information office and get directions to Mount Carmel, where dozens of members of a Christian Zionist sect called the Branch Davidians had perished in a fire-fight with the state authorities in 1993. The episode was a fine illustration of how easily wild bible-based imaginings about a violent End Times can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. The young woman in the tourist office was helpful and friendly, and curious to know what had brought me to Texas. When I explained that I was researching a book about people with ‘a heart for Israel’ and, though keen to visit the site of the Branch Davidian siege, was heading to San Antonio to see a certain pastor who had the biggest heart for Israel in all of America, her eyes lit up in instant recognition. ‘You mean Pastor Hagee! Isn’t that man just wonderful? I watch him all the time on television and I just read his new book, Jerusalem Countdown! You have to read that!’ ‘I’ve read it. It’s quite a picture he paints, isn’t it?’ I said, recalling the book’s mushroom cloud cover and its call for a pre-emptive strike on Iran. ‘I hope you won’t mind me asking, how do you come to have a heart for Israel?’ To my astonishment, there among the brochures and postcards, and the key rings and T-shirts emblazoned with the logo don’t mess with texas, she burst into tears. ‘I believe they’re God’s Chosen People,’ she sobbed, ‘God can’t let anything more happen to them because he’s chosen them, but I’m just so scared that if we get the Democrats again they won’t defend Israel so well, and that’s going to bring suffering on America ...’ Here was proof of the crucial role fear plays in the Christian Zionist story: if America abandons Israel, then God will cancel America’s Most Divinely Favoured Nation status. With the mid-term elections only a fortnight away, with Bush’s ratings plunging and the news out of Iraq all bad, this woman and most Republican voters of the Religious Right were expecting the Democrats to win a majority in the House of Representatives, if not the Senate too. ‘We have to go on blessing the Jews,’ she continued, still sobbing as if her heart would break, ‘I don’t want to be left behind when the Rapture happens, I don’t want to suffer ...’ It seemed to me she must have gleaned her theology from Pastor Hagee’s broadcasts and the Left Behind series. Her experience of life must have inclined her towards the more fundamentalist, Calvinist brand of Christianity with its emphasis on the wrath of God, rather than the feelgood, prosperity Gospel purveyed by evangelicals Hal Lindsey scorned as


1948 onwards

‘ear-ticklers’. Apologising for upsetting her, I waited for her to calm down before asking if she was a member of a church. No, she wasn’t, she told me. Although raised a Baptist, she no longer belonged to any congregation, but continued to read the Bible by herself. When I recalled Sha Stephens mentioning that he’d also given up going to church on account of the spirit of intolerance he’d encountered there – ‘they chew you up and spit you out!’ he’d told me in fluent Texan – I felt surer than ever about the important role played by the electronic and paper pulpit in the spread of Christian Zionism. Equipped with directions to the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel, I left Waco’s tourist office, appalled by my insight into its manager’s lonely terror.

I guessed there’d be nothing much to see and no one to talk to in the place where, thirteen years earlier, seventy-six Christian Zionists had perished in a raging church fire after a gun battle with the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI. I was merely hoping to gain a sense of an environment that had bred a millenarianism so violent it made Chuck Missler’s look safe. The Branch Davidian sect can trace its origins all the way back to the millenarian Millerite sect’s ‘Great Disappointment’ of October 1844. Out of the Millerites came the Seventh Day Adventists, and out of the Seventh Day Adventists came the Branch Davidians, in 1935. This tiny splinter group arrived at a belief that the Kingdom of God would be established in Jerusalem in April 1959. The inevitable fresh disappointment split the sect, but didn’t dampen all its members’ yearning for the Second Coming. During the 1960s Branch Davidians took heart from the ‘miracle’ of Israel’s Six Day War and even opened a centre in Galilee. In the 1980s, tensions over the leadership succession among the community living here, near Waco, culminated in a shoot-out between the son of the widow of a former leader, and her lover, a local handyman who’d changed his name, from Vernon Howell to David Koresh. After a brief sojourn in the nearby town called Palestine, Koresh eventually triumphed and imposed a way of life on his 130-strong community here, near Waco, that involved a mix of close bible study, target practice with automatic machine-guns, rock music and the message that they’d soon be departing for Israel to convert the Jews before the Battle of Armageddon. In the belief that he belonged to the messiah’s House of David, the polygamous Koresh set about siring as many as twelve children, the new rulers in the Kingdom of God – the House of David.

Talking Texan


The clash between the Branch Davidians and the authorities came about shortly after Koresh refused to answer a summons related to the community’s possession of firearms. During a visit from an armed posse from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, four BATF agents and six Branch Davidians were shot dead. After a standoff lasting over seven weeks, the BATF and the FBI mounted an all-out assault on Mount Carmel. The Davidians were engaged in a ‘holy battle’ of the End Times. The authorities were ‘the forces of Babylon’ and the government ‘evil’. Koresh believed he was the Christ, come again. Nothing – not tanks, search-lights, sound-bombing with deafening music, helicopters, or even the closing off of power and water – could induce the dozens of women and children to surrender, to betray their latter-day saviour. Twenty-one children and more than fifty adults, including Koresh, were incinerated in a fire that engulfed the church in which they had barricaded themselves, with a stockpile of ‘flash-bang’ grenades. While the authorities battled post-mortem accusations that they had started the fire, David Koresh’s grieving mother insisted that his coffin be draped in an Israeli flag. Approached down a narrow, pot-holed road at sunset on a fine autumn evening, Mount Carmel seemed a tranquil spot. A couple of Wacans had parked their SUV by the reed-fringed nearby river and were unloading fishing rods. Under a wide, darkening sky, the only other sounds were those of crickets and birds. But there were, after all, some Branch Davidian things to see. A few feet away from an untidy tangle of undergrowth and charred debris marking the site of the mini-Holocaust stood a new cream-painted church. An elegant plaque in front of it expressed thanks to ‘the many volunteers and benefactors who have faithfully answered the Spirit’s call to rebuild upon the ashes’. The final words were in Hebrew, ‘Tzernach yahveh Tzedekenu’, translated as ‘The Branch, the Lord of our Righteousness’, the Old Testament line that had given the sect its name. Nearby was another plaque commemorating the four BATF agents. A little distance from that was yet another memorial stone. Donated by a survivalist group called the Northeast Regional Militia of Texarkana, it listed all the names of the incinerated sect members, including two foetuses. Further down the track was a scattering of one-storey houses, each guarded by an angry dog, and another church, with the lamb of yhwh badly painted in red by its door. The Branch Davidian sect appeared to have survived its self-inflicted mini-Armageddon, but only just.

Joe’s Crab Shack, the fish-restaurant in San Marcos where I’d arranged to


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lunch with the expert on the past, present and prophesied future of the Jerusalem Temple, wasn’t hard to find. And I had no trouble recognising Doctor Randall Price from the author portraits on the covers of his many books, and from his World of Bible Ministries website. A tall and formal man, Dr Price looked and sounded like an academic, but a prosperous one, judging by the elegant cut of his tweed jacket. The income from his twenty books, his teaching of theology, biblical studies and biblical archaeology at three seminaries and a Christian university, and his frequent forays to Israel, both as a professional archaeologist and as a leader of Christian Zionist tours, were adding up to a more than decent living. Not a Texan-speaker, so neither as alarming nor as amusing as Ted Beckett, for example, Price began by patiently lecturing me on bible prophecy. My efforts to halt him, in much the same way as I had tried to halt Chuck Missler during our showdown chat, were similarly frustrated. An attempt to throw him off balance by talking a little Texan to him – ‘But of course the Jews are God’s Chosen People and the centre of Bible prophecy because they wrote the Bible! There was never any chance that they’d be writing about the nation of the Laplanders as God’s Chosen People, was there?’– utterly failed. Price couldn’t, or wouldn’t, look at it that way. A fervent Bible-believer who claimed to be interpreting prophecy in ‘a consistently grammatical, historical, and literal manner’,9 how could he take that giant step back, out of his oxymoronically fact-based faith? His vision of the End Times was standard millenarian Christian Zionist. He could imagine a day when the Rapture whisked away the top echelons of Judaeo-Christian governments and opened the way to Ezekiel’s war between Russia and the Muslim nations and Israel, a conflict in which, as he put it, much of the Muslim world would be ‘nullified’. He forecast that the Antichrist, posing as a top diplomat who offered peace to Israel, would encourage Israelis to let down their guard. Just like Missler, Robertson and Joel Rosenberg, he was sure that Evil incarnate would soon be setting up its headquarters in Babylon, the ‘commercial centre of the End Times’. ‘But what about that Temple?’ I asked him. In Dr Price’s expert view the establishment of the Israelis’ sovereignty over Jerusalem would not be complete until they exercised full control of the Temple Mount. ‘While Jews are forbidden to pray up there on the Temple Mount, Israel doesn’t have the sovereignty she claims. Without control of the Temple Mount and a new Temple, Isaiah 2: 2 can’t come to pass.’ * * ‘It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it.’

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Price believed that the Israelis’ August 2003 decision, that Jews must be free to visit the Temple Mount, constituted a significant step in the direction of Armageddon and the Second Coming. He’s cautiously enthused in one of his books: Will [that decision] lead to other stages that will, in turn, conclude with the rebuilding of the Temple? If so, then these are exciting times in which to live, for we may very well witness the happenings that will climax in this momentous event.10 Agreeing that the cause of the Temple was very dear to Christian Zionists, he told me that the Temple Mount Faithful Movement (TMFM), a small group of Israeli religious extremists intent on rebuilding the Temple, was ‘98 per cent funded by American evangelicals’. The TMFM’s campaign to force a change in the status quo in the world’s most bitterly contested slice of real estate has already cost lives. On 2 November 1990, the organisation’s second demonstration provoked such a storm of fearful fury among Palestinians that some 3,000 converged on their Haram al-Sharif and began pelting Jews praying below at the Western Wall with stones. Israeli police counter-attacked first with tear gas and then rubber bullets, but finally with live ammunition. By the end of the day, seventeen Arabs were dead. The TMFM’s leader, Gershon Salomon, was unrepentant. Only regretting that Muslim blood had defiled the Temple Mount, he proclaimed that the following year he’d be hiring a helicopter to airlift a specially dressed first cornerstone of the new Temple directly into place. He was prevented from doing any such thing, but he was allowed to demonstrate, a right he has retained. Later that year, Salomon appeared as a guest on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club show, telling American evangelicals that the fight over the Temple Mount was ‘a struggle for the redemption of the world’.11 Since 1990, Salomon has skilfully reinvented himself as a lively speaker at prophecy conferences and churches all over the United States; Ted Beckett heard him speak at Pastor Haggard’s mega church in Colorado Springs in 2000, and may have contributed to Salomon’s Temple collection. According to a website report of his last fund-raising visit to the US, in the autumn of 2006, Salomon was moved to tears by the sight of women donating their gold and silver jewellery to the cause.12 As I write, that website is advertising a ten-day ‘Biblical Tour and March to the Temple Mount’, featuring a visit to some Syrian bunkers on the Golan Heights, a meeting with Sondra Oster Baras in her West Bank settlement and a Temple Mount Faithful march around Jerusalem.


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In the past five years, Salomon has stepped up his campaign by regularly loading two vast cornerstones of the new Temple, weighing 6.5 tons, on to a flat-bed truck decked out in Israeli flags and banners. Driving it slowly around Jerusalem, he uses a megaphone to exhort his fellow Israelis to reclaim the Temple Mount. Dr Price admitted he was ‘frightened by some of the positions of the Temple Mount Faithful’, but he fully endorsed his friend Salomon’s efforts to make ready for the great rebuilding with his cornerstones, his architect’s plan of the Temple, his ritual vessels and priest’s robes. He reminded me that TMFM was not the only Israeli group preparing the way for a new Temple. The Temple Institute, located in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, whose exhibition of carefully replicated vessels and garments I’d visited while on Chuck Missler’s Holy Land tour, is even further advanced in its preparations. Similarly reliant on American evangelicals for funding, though not as provocatively urgent about its business as the TMFM, the twenty-year-old Temple Institute has hit international headlines with its quest to breed a perfect heifer whose ritual sacrifice will supply the ashes necessary for the purification of, first the builders, and then the future priests of the Temple. According to divine instructions detailed in Numbers 19, the animal must be without a single blemish and red from head to toe. If there were nine such heifers between the late thirteenth century bc when Moses lived and the destruction of the Second Temple in ad 70, there have been none at all in the intervening almost two thousand years. In full agreement that the Temple will never be rebuilt without the birth of such a beast, a few Christian Zionists have been lending a helping hand. In 1990, Clyde Lott from Mississippi, a Pentecostalist preacher and breeder of Red Angus cattle, visited the Temple Institute and told its Orthodox rabbis that their best chance of breeding a kosher red heifer lay with him shipping two hundred of his best breeding cows to Israel, at a cost of $2,000 a head. They discussed where to raise the herd and considered the biblical suitability of the Golan Heights and the West Bank settlement of Shiloh but four years passed before one of the institute’s rabbis visited Lott at his Mississippi ranch, inspected his stock and found it good. And still the negotiations went on. By 1998, Lott had decided that Israel needed, not 200, but 50,000 Red Anguses and had set up a charity devoted to blessing Israel with an entirely fresh national herd. Touring the country like Hayseed Stephens, he spoke at churches, prophecy conferences and on Christian TV, collecting Christian Zionist dollars wherever he went. Donors were invited ‘to sponsor the purchase of “1 red heifer – $1,000.00”, a half-heifer or quarter, or “1

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air fare” (one cow) at $341. A fund-raising letter exhorted, “Remember, Gen.12: 2–3 “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will curse.”’ 13 But Lott and the Temple Institute fell out; the institute’s rabbis objected to him preaching about converting the Jews in the same breath as he advertised their red heifer project. ‘Israelis are always happy to take evangelical money, but they didn’t like Lott publicising the Christian association,’ remarked Dr Price. The quest for the red heifer, the ‘four-legged time-bomb’,14 more likely than any other item on the Christian Zionist agenda to light the fuse leading to the rebuilding of the Temple and an End Times bloodbath, continues today without Clyde Lott’s assistance. Health and safety issues have prevented him shipping any heifers to Israel. Artificial insemination has failed so far and the rabbis have ruled out cloning on ethical grounds. The Temple Institute has scored two near misses, with a heifer named Melody in 1997, and again in 2002, but now it seems that Pastor John Hagee, in partnership with an organisation called Texas Israel Agricultural Research Foundation, may have joined the race to breed the prize beast, at his $5.5 million ranch in Bracketville, Texas.15 The Temple Institute’s magnificent website, with its blood-red heifer graphic and its doctored photograph of a gigantic new Temple solidly set on a Temple Mount cleared of mosques, is much visited by Christians as well as by Jews.* A cyberspace Temple wall composed of stones inscribed with the names of thousands of donors, and the long list of emails in its cyberspace guest-book, suggest that Christians are at least as keen as Jews to find a heifer and build the Temple. A message posted on 20 October 2006 was typical: ‘I am elated to hear and see the accomplishments and readying for the Temple to come! Amen! Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!’ Dr Price was careful to emphasise that, while he was convinced that the new Temple had to stand exactly where the Dome of the Rock stands today – not to the left or the right of it, as some Israeli Temple experts have argued – he wasn’t in favour of instant demolition to make way for it: ‘Politically, it’s impossible to do it today,’ he told me, calmly sipping his iced tea. I might have felt relieved, but I’d read one of his most popular works,

* Jewish interest in rebuilding the Temple is growing. A May 1983 poll found that only 18 per cent of Israelis wanted a new Temple. On 18 July 2002 the Jerusalem Post reported that 53 per cent of Israelis – 87 per cent of religious Jews, most Sephardi Middle Eastern Jews and 63 per cent of Russian Jews – favoured the idea.


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The Battle for the Last Days of the Temple. I had studied its photograph of him smilingly shaking hands with Rabbi Benny Elon, mainstay of CAC, leader of the radical right-wing National Union Party (which boasts seven seats in the Knesset) and author of a peace plan that involves clearing the West Bank of Palestinians by transferring them all into neighbouring Muslim countries. An ‘Arab Palestinian state never was and never will be!’ is Elon’s catchphrase.16 A firm favourite with American Christian Zionists, Elon has adopted a speaking style that skilfully blends American televangelist with a hint of Fiddler on the Roof’s winsome Topol. Hammering home the ‘blessings’ and ‘curses’ idea, he casually demolishes a main tenet of Christian belief; the way he tells it, the Jews and Israel – rather than Jesus – are the only ‘Way’ by which Christians could ‘come to God’.17 That photo alone demolished Dr Price’s prefatory claim to have treated the Temple question, in all its political, historical and prophetical aspects, with objectivity. It had struck me then that Christian Zionism and academia make uncomfortable bedfellows, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that Price was as anxious as his fellow academic and friend, Dr Tommy Ice at Liberty University’s Pre-Trib Research Center, to distance himself from Texantalkers like Pastor Hagee, Chuck Missler, or Bill Koenig, the White House correspondent, whom he’d recently encountered at a prophecy conference. I went on the attack: ‘Dr Price, I hope you won’t mind my being frank,’ I began. ‘I understand that you see yourself as a more reputable, serious sort of Christian Zionist. What I can’t understand is what you’re doing sharing platforms with people like Koenig, and Hal Lindsey who calls for the obliteration of Syria, and Missler who says Islam’s “Satanic”? You know everything that’s written and said about Israel–Palestine is read and heard in the Middle East, that words can be a matter of life and death out there. Your words may not be quite as inflammatory as Missler’s or Koenig’s, but from an outsider’s point of view you’re all “blessing” Israel on the basis of your particular understanding of a religious text ...’ Dr Price looked taken aback, though whether by the vigour of my assault or its content, I couldn’t say. It transpired that, though he wouldn’t apologise for his Christian Zionism, he did understand the power of his words. A Jordanian acquaintance had warned him that the contents of his books were infamous enough in Muslim Jordan to make it dangerous for him to visit that country. Now he admitted to a worry that my book might endanger him. ‘If you have to fault me for something,’ he said, defensively, ‘you can fault me for my following of the Bible.’

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I went back on my Texan offensive: ‘But the Bible says “blessed are the peacemakers”, doesn’t it? By encouraging people to view everything happening in the Middle East as the fulfilment of prophecy, you and all those “wackos”, as your friend Dr Ice calls them, are doing everything in your power to curse peacemakers.’ ‘There are greater issues than peace,’ was his answer. I might have hit back hard again with ‘Try telling that to the majority of Palestinians and Israelis! It’s their country, not yours to meddle in with your dream of war.’ I might have said a lot of things, but I’d have been missing his point if I had. Peace couldn’t be Dr Price’s Christian priority because the combined forces of bible prophecy, 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions have hurled him and millions like him back to Munich 1938. Christian Zionists like Price are now more receptive than ever before to the sound of alarm bells rung by Jews whom history has taught to expect and prepare for the very worst, by Jews who dare not risk being, as Joel C. Rosenberg put it, ‘blindsided by evil’ again. The West Bank settler Sondra Oster Baras had rung those bells during our long talk in that West Jerusalem cafe. Netanyahu’s new refrain was ‘It’s 1938 – and Iran is Germany’, only worse, because where Hitler started a war and then built a nuclear weapon, Iran is going nuclear before the war starts.18 In Dr Price’s eyes, anyone refusing to combat the grand evil of Islamic fundamentalism with pre-emptive strikes against Muslim countries, anyone seeking to resolve the Israel–Palestine conflict by insisting Israel abide by UN resolutions and give up land is another Neville Chamberlain. Our three hour-long lunch over at last, he politely walked me out to the parking lot, anxiously repeating that if I had to fault him on anything, it should be on his faithful adherence to Bible truth. I made him no promises. Relieved to be alone again, I retuned the car radio away from a Christian station that was urgently calling for a national revival before the onset of Armageddon, and sped on down the freeway, towards San Antonio and Pastor Hagee.

Right where my map said Pastor Hagee’s church should be, on the north side of the junction of San Antonio’s outer loop and Stone Oak Parkway, was a gigantic, pale stone complex of buildings without many windows; a military or police academy, or perhaps a prison, I decided. I passed by it again, and again, searching for a cross, checking and rechecking the map, before finally spotting a tall column at the top of which was a sign saying


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‘Cornerstone Church’. Swerving into a wide expanse of parking lot, I got out of the car, looked around me, and lit a cigarette. It was a fine, bright autumn day. With half an hour still to go before my 2 p.m. meeting with Pastor Hagee, I calculated I had time to take a stroll around a property precisely the same size as the Temple Mount. But no sooner had I stubbed out my cigarette on the tarmac than a large SUV came careering across the parking lot towards me. Down buzzed the driver’s window. ‘Good-day, ma’am,’ said a hefty young policeman, his biceps straining at his shirt sleeves and his eyes invisible behind mirror sunglasses. ‘You mind telling me if you have business here?’ ‘This is Pastor Hagee’s church, isn’t it?’ I asked him. I must be in the wrong place, I thought. Why would a policeman be patrolling a church? ‘Yes, ma’am, it is! You have some business here?’ he repeated the question. Once I’d explained myself to the officer’s satisfaction, and apologised for flouting Pastor Hagee’s no smoking rule, I requested his permission to take a walk. ‘I’m sorry, ma’am, I can’t authorise that,’ he said. ‘Security’s tight here, uniformed and plainclothes. The moment someone sees you, they’re gonna raise the alarm and you’re gonna be in trouble. I’d advise you to get back in your vehicle and follow me around to the entrance you’ll be needing.’ Desperate for fresh air and exercise, astonished to find that security here at a church in Texas was almost as tight as on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, I begged for permission at least to travel the few hundred feet to the front entrance on foot. But no, he couldn’t authorise even that. ‘I tell you what I can do for you, ma’am,’ he said at last. ‘I’ll give you a ride around the place myself.’ I accepted his kind offer, hoping I’d find a way to ask him why Cornerstone Church was more like Fort Knox than any Christian house of worship I’d ever seen. No. On second thoughts, Dr Hagee had at least as much reason as Dr Falwell to expect a visit from an Islamist suicide bomber, especially while ‘this shindig’, as the policeman called the forthcoming fiesta for Israel, was on. My chauffeur told me he’d served in the US navy, but was now a parttime policeman, proud to be serving the Lord and employed by Pastor Hagee, as a member of PAWS – ‘Pastor’s Ass-whoppers’. Theology wasn’t his strong suit. The Koran was simply ‘wrong – just like gays are wrong’, but he had developed views on politics and the Middle East, I discovered, as we cruised around, on the watch for invaders. ‘I was in the navy during the first Gulf War in ’91,’ he said, ‘and I was

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real angry that we stopped before Baghdad. This President Bush’s finished that job, so I’d vote for him again if he could run again.’ ‘But the war in Iraq’s not going well, is it?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘but that’s because we’re holding back. We’re not going in there hard enough. I’m talking annihilation! I don’t like killing women and children but that’s the only way you win wars. It’s gotta hurt them! A man with twenty-four kids – you know how they breed out there – he can afford to lose a couple ...’ I recognised these sentiments as a bald statement of the average Christian Zionist’s position with regard to the war they backed so sturdily; President Bush, they suspect, was browbeaten by politically correct liberals into exercising restraint when all-out force was what was needed to get the job done. ‘And how should Iran be handled, d’you think?’ ‘Excuse me, ma’am, while I check out what this guy wants – I don’t recognise his car or his face,’ he said, before leaning out of his window to interrogate the husband of a woman who worked in Hagee’s office. ‘You were asking about Iran,’ he continued. ‘We need to make a glass bowl of Iran.’ ‘Sorry?’ ‘We need to nuke that country!’ It was a while before I worked out that when radioactive material reacts with sand it produces glass. Thanking him for the ride, I headed towards the entrance he indicated, for my meeting with his equally trigger-happy pastor.

Just to the left of the door was what looked like a portion of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, with large enough cracks between each block of limestone for the Christian Zionist faithful to insert their prayer requests, just as Orthodox Jews do in Jerusalem. Its inscription was pray for jerusalem – they shall prosper that love thee.19 Pastor Hagee was lucky to be an American living in the twenty-first century. He’d have been burnt at the stake in Elizabethan England, branded with a J for ‘judaiser’ or hurled into prison by King James I, and consigned to a lunatic asylum by George III, I thought, as I walked down a corridor lined with framed portraits of each of Israel’s prime ministers towards a suite of offices. There I found another photograph: a large full-colour one of Hagee posed with the disgraced House Majority leader Tom DeLay, in front of Capitol Hill. Hagee was running a few minutes late, I was told; he was with a Belgian journalist, and an Australian film crew was next in line. An


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anxious assistant was opening one door to bustle people into his inner sanctum, and another to bustle them out again. ‘Only twenty minutes,’ she muttered, when at last I entered a dim-lit room lined from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, complete with a ladder to reach the highest tomes. A wider, shorter version of Jerry Falwell with a cheery smile, metalrimmed spectacles and short grey hair, Hagee rose, affable and welcoming, from behind a gigantic wooden desk. He bid me be seated opposite him, in one of two lower chairs, placed on either side of a lower table. I was back in Russia again, where every state official I’d ever met had asserted his power and dignity in the same furniture arrangement. ‘Victoria! My youngest granddaughter’s name!’ he said, pointing to his screen-saver’s fuzzy image of a newborn. Good, I thought. Hagee was a Christian Zionist in the entertaining style of Ted Beckett, not another Dr Price who’d waste my precious twenty minutes on Bible chapter and verse. But we were soon losing time on pleasantries. It was a while before I could get him off the subject of his family and the fact that he was the forty-seventh Hagee to preach the Word of God. I heard about his first visit to Israel in 1978, about how he’d gone there a tourist and left a Zionist, equipped with a stack of books and a Jewish prayer shawl, and overpowered by the thought that ‘If you take away the Jewish contribution, there would be no Christianity’. He told me that he’d had three meetings with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and known every one of his successors. He explained how the international outcry following Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear facility at Osirak in 1981 had inspired him to hold a first ‘Night to Honour Israel’ here in San Antonio. I learned that the previous year’s event had been held in Israel, for a change, on an Israeli air-force base. He’d followed it up with a speech to the Knesset, he said, in which he’d pledged evangelicals’ unwavering support for Israel and told his audience that ‘If America forces Israel to give away part of the land of Israel to the enemies of Israel, then the judgment will come to America.’ 20 Hagee often talks Texan; he’s told his Cornerstone congregation that Israel is entitled to be ‘ten times’ the size it is today – from the Nile to the Euphrates.21 Since time was short, I talked some Texan too: ‘Pastor Hagee, I’ve read your Jerusalem Countdown. Could you explain what a Christian pastor of a church in Texas is doing discussing the details of Iran’s nuclear capability with anonymous Israeli sources, and then calling for a war against Iran in a best-seller with a mushroom cloud on its cover?’ Hagee told me about his ‘very dear friendship’ with Benjamin Netanyahu who’d been guest of honour at his 2001 Night to Honour Israel and about

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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who’d visited Cornerstone ‘several times’. But in no time at all, he was off terra firma, sailing up to the wide fiery yonder of bible prophecy, seeking to convince me that his own efforts on Israel’s behalf were nothing compared to God’s: ‘In the future, when the Church of Jesus Christ will be taken off the Earth [the Rapture],* there’ll be a global backlash against Israel and then God will be their defender. God’s Israel’s spy in the sky!’ I had to interrupt him to ask if he was as dismayed as the woman I’d met in Waco’s tourist office at the prospect of a Democrat victory in the mid-term elections. A Democrat win might not curtail his access to Bush’s White House but it might mean that his call for a pre-emptive strike on Iran would be ignored. No, he wasn’t worried, he said, explaining that his new CUFI lobbying group had the advantage of being a ‘single issue organisation’ which meant that its relationships with elected officials were solely based on whether or not those people supported Israel, not on their allegiance to the Religious Right of the Republican Party. ‘As you know, most American Jews vote Democrat, so not all Democrats are against Israel. All CUFI needs is a majority of 60 senators and 288 congressmen. We’ve already got thirteen out of fourteen CUFI regional directors and “directors” in all but seven US states. They all need to get to know every one of their elected officials ...’ Divulging that he’d had two meetings with George W. Bush since 2000, he directed my attention to a photograph of himself in a saffron-yellow suit, grouped with both Bush presidents, at Bush Senior’s 80th birthday party in 2004. Next he pointed to a painting of another mighty trinity – George W. Bush, his head bent in prayer, flanked by Abraham Lincoln and George Washington – and said, in almost the same words young Josh Reinstein of CAC had used, ‘Israel’s never had a better friend in the White House.’ ‘But have you ever talked bible prophecy with George W.?’ I asked him. ‘The president’s a Bible believer – very moral, very honest, very committed – but I don’t know how much he knows about eschatology,’ he replied with an evasive chuckle. I was prepared to bet that Hagee steered as clear of prophecy when talking to the president or Israelis as the Earl of Shaftesbury had when *

Hagee has imagined the Rapture in his Attack on America: ‘homes of believers will stand empty, with supper dishes on the dining tables, food bubbling in the microwave and water running in the sink’.


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laying his plans before Lord Palmerston in 1840, or as William E. Blackstone had when composing his Memorial for President Harrison in 1891. Hagee didn’t need to talk prophecy to Bush. An appeal to the straight-talking, gut-instinct, good guys/bad guys Texan in the president would have done the trick. Pastor Hagee was turning out to be the most politically savvy Christian Zionist I’d encountered, more like Gary Bauer than Jerry Falwell. He told me he wanted nothing to do with Messianics – the Jews who’d converted to Christianity as the conventionally Christian Zionist reading of prophecy demands – because ‘the Israelis see those people as traitors’. He claimed that bringing Jews to recognise Jesus as their messiah would ‘muddy the waters in what we’re trying to accomplish’. Hagee’s abdication of his Christian responsibility to share the Gospel with all non-Christians, his refusal to mention Jesus to Jews, has cost him a few Christian Zionist and Messianic friends but it’s secured him the respect and trust of Likud politicians as well as more radical right-wingers. No wonder he’s viewed as kindly as Rabbi Eckstein in the corridors of Israeli power, and has been chosen to found CUFI. No wonder he’s managed to recruit David Brog, a Jew, to run CUFI’s affairs in Washington. In rightwing Israeli eyes this most assiduous quoter of the blessings and curses line is a Jew in all but name. The continued domination of Israel in the Middle East and America in the world, the survival of Judaeo-Christian civilisation, in other words, is what Hagee and his Israeli allies and President Bush and the neo-cons and the Religious Right are ‘trying to accomplish’. At this high level, the millenarian rationale for Christian Zionism is downgraded to a useful, fun tool for recruiting the bible-prophecy-fed masses to that grand cause. Hagee is a useful measure of the distance Christian Zionism has travelled from its seventeenth-century beginnings, from the era when men like Sir Henry Finch and Increase Mather believed that Jews wouldn’t, couldn’t, be restored to their land before their mass conversion to Christianity. A pragmatic and flexible approach to the absolute Word of God, a willingness to mould itself to the political imperative of the day, has been the secret of Christian Zionism’s durable appeal. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Pastor Hagee’s reading of the prophet Zechariah rules out a double-strength Jewish Holocaust for the Jews at Armageddon; he’s with Ted Beckett, rather than Chuck Missler on that point. ‘That stuff’s already been fulfilled by the Nazi gas chambers,’ he assured me. His similarly flexible answers to my Temple questions might have offended Dr Price. ‘The Temple’s not an important issue to me,’ he declared. ‘Who says

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it has to be rebuilt? Revelation 21: 2 says the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven, ready-made, and that’s where Jesus’s governmental facilities on earth will be ...’ ‘But what about the Antichrist? Doesn’t he have to be worshipped in a new Temple?’ ‘He doesn’t need any temple! He can erect an image of himself up there on the Temple Mount any time he wants,’ said Hagee, with a grin. ‘What?’ I laughed. ‘Right there, beside the Dome of the Rock?’ ‘That place’ll be destroyed in an earthquake!’ he chuckled.

If Pastor Hagee is a Southern charmer – friendly, funny and a touch flirtatious – his faith in God’s two chosen nations is deadly serious, and every inch of his 5,000-seater church proclaims it. Every seat was comfortably upholstered in star-spangled navy velour. The wall-to-wall carpeting was scarlet and all the woodwork a gleaming white. Lined up against the auditorium’s walls were twelve embroidered battle-standards, bearing the names of each of the tribes of Israel. On either side of the stage were twinned Israeli and American flags. Centrestage were two large white thrones, on which Hagee and Matthew – his son and heir-apparent – sat for much of that first evening’s event. ‘Erev Tov!’ he greeted us and a worldwide Christian TV audience of millions, in Hebrew. After inviting us to bless Israel in ‘the highest possible’ way by visiting the little Israeli trade fair in the parking lot, he invited his TV audience to join CUFI, referring them to a number at the bottom of their screens. A vast screen behind him played some footage of CUFI’s Washington launch. One of Rabbi Eckstein’s Religious Right stalwarts, Senator Rick Santorum, was announcing, ‘We will stand with Israel until every enemy of Zion has been defeated!’ to a roomful of applauding banqueters. After warming us up some more with a talk by a pastor of a 19,000member mega church in Minneapolis who told us that ‘a failure to be proactive about blessing Israel’ was tantamount to cursing her, and that only those nations that blessed the Jews would enter into ‘Jesus Christ’s millennial reign’, we were treated to a short bible-based play acted by Christian Zionists from Denver’s Faith Bible Church; it started with Abraham, took in the Holocaust and ended in 1967. Then we all rose to our feet to sing the Hatikvah. Waving their hands, shouting ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Amen’, following the foreign words on the screen, women wept. Ratcheting up the emotional pitch by hinting that blessing Israel was as spiritually nourishing as becoming a born-again Christian, Hagee promised


1948 onwards

us, ‘You’ll never be the same once you decide to stand up and speak up for Israel!’ At last, he introduced the evening’s star guest, CUFI board member and ‘one of the great voices in America for the values that make this nation great – Gary Bauer!’ The final speaker of Eckstein’s ‘Washington Briefing’ banquet, the coiner of the ‘two shining cities upon a hill’ line, Bauer was on top rhetorical form again. After telling us how correct President Bush had been to call Islamic fundamentalism ‘Islamo-fascism’, he identified the enemy’s goal as the ‘destruction of Judaeo-Christian civilisation’ and plunged us all back to 1938 by conjuring up a darkened Europe in which ‘the snake-head of Jew hatred has slithered out from under its rock’. Bauer earned a standing ovation for telling us he yearned for a prime minister of Israel to stand up and simply say ‘this land is ours because God gave it to us’. His well-worn bluster about the enemy being badly mistaken in doubting Americans and Israelis had the stomach for a fight won him another, and his trusty old ‘two shining cities upon a hill’ line a third. Pastor Hagee lightened the load of righteous foreboding that had descended on that giant auditorium by promising us a fun-packed weekend. Blessing Israel was not all gloom and doom. Outside in the parking lot, near the Israeli trade tent and the fair rides and bouncy castles he’d laid on for the kids, we’d find twelve Jewish Feast of Tabernacles booths – each of them manned by members of the different Jewish tribes into which he’d divided his congregation. There’d be candy-floss for sale in one, cookies in another, burgers in another ...

While hordes of children frolicked outside in the parking lot, enjoying the warm sunshine and the Feast of Tabernacles fast food, more than 5,000 adults who’d paid $25 each for the privilege of attending a three-hour-long ‘Middle East Briefing’ patiently waited in line to pass through airport-style security checks, before taking their seats in the church. A former CIA director, a member of that neo-con nursery PNAC and an ardent advocate of the war against Iraq and even of bombing Syria, Jim Woolsey was first to speak. Likening Israel’s position as an ally in the Middle East to that of Britain in Nazi Europe in 1940, he explained that ‘Israel is our essential ally in an essential part of the world that has turned to totalitarianism.’ He didn’t mention God or prophecy once. Nor did the next speaker, a lively Lebanese Christian, who preferred to call herself a ‘Lebanese Zionist’. Instead, Brigitte Gabriel energised the audience with hair-raising tales of her family’s ill-treatment at the hands

Talking Texan


of Muslims, before tenderly recounting her discovery that Jews were ‘able to love and show compassion to their enemy’. Her angry demands that we all ‘throw political correctness in the garbage where it belongs’, understand the danger presented by Hezbollah’s eleven US cells and start ‘tackling the cancer killing our country’, were greeted by a storm of applause and whistles. Lieutenant-General Moshe Ya’alon, chief of Israeli intelligence under Yitzhak Rabin and the man responsible for putting down the second Intifada of 2001 to 2005, had been flown from Israel to tell us ‘this war is about values – they sanctify death, we sanctify life; we like knowledge, they like ignorance’. That went down well, and there were anguished cries of ‘No! No!’ when he mentioned that the European Union was still trying to pressure Israel into trading land for peace in order to provide Palestinians with a state. A loud chorus of cheers greeted his promise of ‘another round’ in Israel’s summer war against Hezbollah. ‘Where are the Europeans today?’ he asked with a final flourish. ‘Sleeping, like before World War Two!’ ‘Europe is not only sleeping,’ Dr Joseph Ginat, a Jewish-American speaker, corrected him, ‘Europe is in a coma!’ Why? Because ‘it has given up its Christian identity’. A second Arab speaker, a member of the PLO turned Christian Zionist, named Walid Shoebat, whose works I’d seen on sale at the Hal Lindsey prophecy conference in Minneapolis a year earlier, made a speech as emotively Zionist as Brigitte Gabriel’s. Shoebat won a standing ovation for denouncing Muslims in general and his own father in particular as liars, and for quoting Joel’s prohibition on Jews ceding any of their promised land.22 Chilled by all that hatred, nauseated by a surfeit of propaganda, I escaped out into the sunshine. Three male members of the church’s tribe of Shimon were doing a brisk trade in chopped barbecue sandwiches. One told me that he didn’t know the rights and wrongs of developments in the Middle East but he did trust Pastor Hagee ‘to work out what is God’s will in the matter’. I asked him how easy it was for him to access Hagee in person, and discovered that the Cornerstone boasts a militarystyle hierarchy and discipline: ‘Simple!’ he said. ‘There’s only two guys to get by: the leader of my tribe and one other.’ I spotted and greeted the policeman who wanted to make a glass bowl of Iran. A man dispensing bottled water, a retired bank manager from the Midwest and a member of Hagee’s CUFI, told me he was waiting for Hagee to indicate – by email announcement – which way to vote in the forthcoming mid-terms. While I munched on my sandwich and watched a display of Israeli dancing, it occurred to me that American Christian Zionism’s influence


1948 onwards

might be negligible were it not for the fact that so many of its noisiest exponents were implicitly trusted churchmen. Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were all pastors. Even the not so charismatic Dr Randall Price co-pastored at San Marcos’s Grace Bible Church.

‘We’re marching, marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion ...’ – the same catchy hymn I’d heard a year earlier, at Liberty University, before Dr Tommy Ice’s power-point prophecy presentation. It sounded much more convincing here at Cornerstone, sung by a packed church and a vast choir, to a trumpeting accompaniment. Hagee and son were back on their thrones for the Sunday morning service, a couple of armed guards stationed to left and right of them, by the American and Israeli flags. A few Jews sat in the front row, wearing skull-caps and prayer shawls, clapping along to a spirited rendition of one of Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest entries. The church’s video screen relayed a close-up of Hagee wiping away a tear while his son sang an agonised love-song to Jerusalem. A woman soloist stepped up to sing in Hebrew. Hagee Junior rose from his throne again to join in, also in Hebrew and, before long, the curtain went up to reveal the entire choir singing along, in Hebrew. Picking up a microphone, Hagee rose from his throne to preach. After explaining that he was taking a break during this Feast of Tabernacles from his current topic, the Book of Revelation, he gave us a quick crash course in the meaning of each Jewish feast, before recommending that we celebrate them all and be joyful because happiness was healthy: ‘When God is in you, you have the power over doubt, and fear, and disease!’ That same power Ted Beckett had spoken of had rendered Hagee immune to the protest of four San Antonians who were picketing his event with a placard asking what would jesus bomb? The slurs of a rabbi of San Antonio’s Reform Temple Beth-El, who’d recently attacked him in print for being a ‘preacher of hate’ and a demoniser of Islam, couldn’t wound him; liberal Jews are as much to be shunned as liberal Gentiles, in Hagee’s view. Being branded ‘a charlatan’ by fellow Christian churchmen in the city wasn’t even a pinprick;23 the historical anti-Semitism of older mainstream churches disqualifies them as truly Christian in his eyes. And what did he care if the San Antonio Express had just run a comment piece by a Washington rabbi warning that both the Christian Zionists’ opposition to peace plans for Israel and their Religious Right stance on domestic issues made them false friends to most American Jews? 24 Those detractors would be liberals, again.

Talking Texan


‘Do I care? Absolutely not!’ blustered Hagee. ‘We’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing,’ he roared, ‘because what we’re doing is righteous and needs to be done!’ The packed church erupted in cheers.

There were all kinds of power on display at Hagee’s 25th Night to Honor Israel. Guest of honour and keynote speaker was Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the most powerful Jewish organisation in America, a person once described as ‘the most influential private citizen in foreign-policy making’.25 Why should Hagee even think of changing his tune when he’d recently convinced no less a person than the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations (CPMAJO) that his blessing of Israel was a boon? Hoenlein’s presence there that night counted for as much as Hagee’s meetings with White House officials and President Bush, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s visits to Cornerstone. The most energetically committed of the fifty-one Jewish groups making up Hoenlein’s CPMAJO happen to be the most hawkishly Zionist, and Hoenlein is their able and tireless champion.* Where AIPAC concentrates its pro-Israel efforts on Congress, Hoenlein has excellent access to the executive branch of government. His organisation represents a fourth powerful pro-Israel lobby at the White House, to add to those of the Christian Zionists, the neo-cons and AIPAC. Hoenlein is as convinced as Netanyahu and President Olmert that President Ahmadinejad of Iran represents as great a threat to Israel and the rest of the democratic world as Hitler ever did. Just like them, Hoenlein believes that America must be prevented from soliciting Iran’s and Syria’s help with the pacification of Iraq. The price Iran would exact for that urgently needed co-operation would be the freedom to continue to develop her nuclear capability. Israel first, but the rest of the world in time, would pay the price for that compromise, they believe. With popular disgust at the failure of the neo-con project in Iraq looking set to decide the mid-term elections in favour of the Democrats in a fortnight’s time and all appetite for reordering the Middle East at the barrel of a gun fast dissipating, it was perhaps not so surprising that Hoenlein had travelled all the way to San Antonio. He’d come to rally members of the one sizeable non-Jewish constituency in the world that could still be relied *

The organisation represents 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1.5 million Conservative Jews, whose combined liberal weight is outweighed by that of 600,000 Orthodox Jews and numerous smaller right-wing organisations, such as the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) and Friends of Likud.


1948 onwards

on to urge war and more war, to support a Greater Israel, to see things the neo-con, the President Bush, the right-wing Israeli, way. A sober, elegant speaker, Hoenlein began with a joke and moved on to profusely thank Hagee’s wife, Diana, for recently leading ‘thousands of CUFI members’ to the UN building in New York to picket President Ahmadinejad. He was at pains to point out that Israel’s war against Hezbollah was part of a necessary war against Ahmadinejad, whose famous talk of wiping Israel off the map had turned it into a war that involved everyone because, as everyone knew, ‘those who hate the Jews never stop there’. If Hoenlein was a big catch, Pastor Hagee had plenty of other reasons to be joyful that night. ‘God TV’ was broadcasting the entire occasion live, worldwide. He had video footage of the Vice-Prime-Minister Shimon Peres describing his activities on Israel’s behalf as ‘the best help Israel could have hoped for’, and some more, of Benjamin Netanyahu, reminding everyone that ‘the rise of the Jewish state would not have been possible without Christian Zionism’. To cap it all, he had cheques totalling $7 million to donate to worthy Israeli causes, including half a million for the West Bank settlement of Ariel, a million for Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and $3 million for an orphanage. And, as if all that weren’t enough, he had a packed programme of entertainment in store for us. It kicked off with the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and the Hatikvah, but that was only the start. Dancers dressed in stetsons, Davy Crockett hats and red neckerchiefs cavorted about the stage singing ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’. Hagee Junior sang us a ‘song of Zion’. Two soldiers, one in US army camouflage, the other wearing a prayer shawl over his uniform, walked to centre-stage, shook hands and embraced. The auditorium lights went off and the entire choir processed around the church with candles, while a God-like, disembodied voice boomed ‘Every drop of Jewish blood is sacred.’ Diana Hagee made a brief appearance dressed in the colours of the Israeli flag. At last, it was Hagee’s turn to speak. After recalling that he’d sent out 150 invitations to his first Night to Honor Israel and received only one reply, he told us that God had now performed a ‘major miracle’ by facilitating Nights to Honour Israel all over the US and even Canada. A Toronto event had raised half a million dollars for Israel. Next, he reiterated his wish to see Israel repeat its attack on Osirak in the shape of an attack on Iran. For Pastor Hagee there was no more righteously Christian way of addressing the complex tragedy of the Middle East, and no better means of assuaging the sad terror that God might no longer be blessing America, than by talking Texan.

Talking Texan


‘Listen up, Mr President of Iran!’ he roared into his microphone. ‘Don’t threaten America! We’re not afraid of you!’ The audience stamped and cheered their delight. ‘We Christian Zionists are going to be your worst nightmare! If you remember, Pharaoh threatened Israel, and he ended up fish-food in the Red Sea!’ The applause and whistling and Amens were deafening. ‘When you predict that Israel will disappear in a sudden storm you may be predicting the way you’ll disappear!’ It was one long, screaming ovation. ‘The voice of evil is not going to go uncontested!’ he bellowed. ‘Not on our watch! – not on our watch!’ The church was in uproar. Hagee’s last words were directed at Jews: ‘stop giving the land away! – the land belongs to you! – keep it!’


In November 2006 popular dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war in Iraq – generally, the Democrats wanted to bring the troops home while the Republicans wished Bush had gone in harder in the first place – swept the Democrats back into power in Congress. The result seemed to suggest that the powerful coalition of Rapture-ready Christian Zionists, neo-cons, Jewish-American lobbying organisations, Israeli settlers and right-wingers might have had its day. There were other reasons why those uncomfortable with Washington’s approach to foreign affairs might be feeling more optimistic. Following the elections, key neo-cons – Secretary of State for Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon, and John Bolton at the United Nations – lost their jobs, which suggested that the White House recognised how divisive their influence had been. The disingenuous efforts of Douglas Feith – a neo-con who headed an ‘alternative intelligence’ unit in the Pentagon – to push the case for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq by proving a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, were exposed. Israel’s defence and intelligence establishments, meanwhile, were still licking their wounds after their poor showing in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Strident Israeli calls for a pre-emptive strike against a nuclear-arming Iran whose president wanted to wipe Israel off the map were being muffled by the emergency in Iraq and by a growing awareness that it was Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rather than the militant Holocaust-denier President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, who determined Iran’s defence policy. By the end of 2006, the Religious Right had suffered a number of embarrassing setbacks too. The 2008 presidential hopeful and pillar of the Religious Right, Senator Rick Santorum, lost his Pennsylvania seat in the mid-terms. The Christian Zionists’ blunderbuss in Congress, Tom DeLay, left Washington in June 2006, badly damaged by a charge of moneylaundering and tangential involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying



scandal. Still more luridly, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, was exposed as a hypocrite in his private life. A former male prostitute revealed that he’d been supplying the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs with drugs while conducting a three-year relationship with him involving monthly trysts in a Denver hotel. In February 2007, sixty members of the secretive Council for National Policy met in Orlando to complain that none of the Republican candidates for president merited their wholehearted backing. The front-runner, New York’s Mayor Rudi Giuliani, had spoken of Israelis and Americans standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ in the War on Terror but, thrice-married and unreliable on abortion and gay civil rights, he was too biblically incorrect for many. Senator John McCain won points for backing President Bush’s refusal to change course in Iraq and instead send a fresh ‘surge’ of 30,000 troops into Baghdad, but McCain had long ago offended the Religious Right by denouncing Jerry Falwell as an ‘agent of intolerance’ and an ‘evil’ influence on the Republican Party. Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, though handsome and businesslike, was a Mormon – a member, in evangelical eyes, of an unorthodox and barely Christian sect, with biblically incorrect polygamy in his family background. A fourth would-be candidate, Senator Newt Gingrich, damaged his chances by revealing that while hounding Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, he’d been having an extra-marital affair himself. Nevertheless, for all these signs that the tide was turning, that the Religious Right was in retreat, there were other factors to take into account – factors that, when taken together, seemed to suggest that Christian Zionists would continue to prosper and multiply. The death of Jerry Falwell in May 2007, at the age of seventy-three seemed to herald the end of the era and represent a gigantic loss to America’s Christian Zionist movement, but the sturdy old warhorse of the Religious Right had already made way for Pastor Hagee, with whom he’d recently joined forces to promote Senator John McCain’s (faute de mieux) bid for the Republican nomination. Press obituaries focused on Falwell’s legacy as a founder of Moral Majority Inc., and on his strenuous efforts to demolish the constitutional wall separating Church from State. His forty-year-long love affair with Israel barely registered, except among Jews. ‘Despite our many disagreements through the years, we were saddened to learn of the loss of Rev. Jerry Falwell,’ said the characteristically flip-flopping Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League: ‘He was a passionate leader of Christianity in America and a dear friend of Israel.’ Foxman fondly recalled persuading Falwell to



stop referring to the US as a ‘Christian nation’ and instead to use the formula ‘Judaeo-Christian nation. Morton Klein, the leader of ZOA, was dismayed by the loss of such a staunch supported of Israel: ‘Jews should have appreciated his virtually unconditional support more than we did,’ 1 he said. Zionists and Christian Zionists were drawing closer together. In grateful recognition of CUFI’s organisation of more than forty fundraising Nights to Honor Israel, Pastor Hagee was the first leading Christian Zionist invited to speak at AIPAC’s annual conference in March 2007. Zev Chafets, the Jewish-American author of A Match Made in Heaven (2007), was following where Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and CUFI’s David Brog led by publicly advocating that Jews welcome Christian Zionist support. American evangelicals, Chafets argued in his book, ‘may love Jews too much. They may love Jews for the wrong reasons. They may, in future, not love Jews at all’, but who cares? ‘For now,’ he continued, ‘the evangelical Christians of America are not the enemy. They are the enemy of the enemy, and they want to be accepted and appreciated. In return they are offering a war-time alliance and full partnership in a Judeo-Christian America. It is an offer the Jews of America should consider while it is still on the table.’ 2 Pragmatic political alliances, AIPAC conference appearances and Chafets’s ‘war-time’ strategising all testified to the Christian Zionists’ continuing domestic and international clout. The movement showed no signs of faltering; a poll published in early 2007 showed that over half the inhabitants of America’s southern states believed that God gave Israel to the Jews.3 But the most important guarantee of Christian Zionism’s future, it seemed to me, was the prevailing climate of fear: fear of radical Islam, fear of Israel’s extermination signalling a faith-destroying deviation from the divine plan, and fear of America’s fall from grace with God into impotence and poverty. Zionism – Christian and Jewish – was born in fear. A proto-Christian Zionism first flourished in a climate of Calvinism-inspired fear mixed with millenarian hope. English Puritans like Sir Henry Finch and the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony lived in terror of a Catholic counter-reformation and of James I and his son bringing down a divine punishment on Englishmen in the form of an exile as long and painful as that of the Jews from Palestine. A terror that the French Revolution and Napoleonic republicanism were announcing the onset of the End Times seized evangelicals in nineteenth-century Britain, and their American counterparts sweetened the pill of pre-millennial dispensationalism’s End Times nightmare with the dream of a rescuing Rapture. Eastern European



pogroms and Theodor Herzl’s well-founded fear of western Europe’s intolerance of Jews spurred the development of Zionism amongst the Jewish communities. It took Christian Zionists like Lewis Way, the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury and George Eliot to infuse that fear with a humanitarian generosity that was, however, rooted in a damaging excess of imperial confidence. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 reflected both that humanitarian impulse and that imperial confidence. It also involved a failure to contemplate the likely consequences of the Declaration that has become a hallmark of the Christian Zionist outlook. Christian Zionists’ simplistic approach to current events in the Middle East has long been undermining the wider international community’s humanitarian and pragmatic efforts to broker peace in Israel–Palestine. At least as importantly, it is now harming not just the Palestinians but also the majority of Israelis and diaspora Jews who recognise the clear demographic imperative of ceding land to the Arabs in order to preserve both Israel’s Jewish and its democratic character, as well as the justice of a Palestinian state. And Christian Zionism’s knockon effects are no less damaging; they are hampering the West’s ability to occupy the high moral ground in the wider struggle against Islamic fundamentalism because it is all too easy to argue that America is fighting one fundamentalism with another. Much as Christian Zionists talk of defending Judaeo-Christian values and bible mandates, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Europe’s persecuted Jews were handed a poisoned chalice when Britain and America acknowledged their right to be ‘restored’ to Palestine. The chalice remains poisoned. Israel is still beleaguered and short of friends. This means that unconditional support from the richest and best-armed country in the world, even when it involves an irrational apocalypticism that envisages a double-strength Holocaust at Armageddon, is vital to the Zionists’ cause, even while it alienates many of Israel’s more thoughtful defenders. Still more importantly, the widespread Islamic perception of America and Israel as holier-than-thou, imperialistic, hubristic and deaf to the counsels of other countries in the region has stoked the fires of hatred across the Middle East. As early as October 2002, six months before the attack on Iraq, the leader of the radical Islamic group Hezbollah in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, was warning that Christian Zionists and US oilmen were aiming to ‘redraw the world’s political map’ and, he added, ‘it is said that several US presidents are affiliated with the Christian Zionists’.4 Four years later a voice as authoritative and moderate as that of the best-selling BritishEgyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif had taken up the cry. In a speech delivered



at Warwick University and reprinted in full in Egypt’s leading Al-Ahram newspaper, Soueif laid out the position: ‘So here’s the scene: in Israel, a stalled Zionist project, in the United States, a neo-con administration around a born-again president and a mobilised and growing Christian Zionist population – courted assiduously for years by Binyamin Netanyahu. ‘It is clear to many people that the influence of the Zionist project on the ideology, the attitude and the modus operandi of the United States is doing major harm to the entire world. This can be seen in its most flagrant form in the actions and preaching of the Christian Zionists in the United States, this very active population of some 30 million who actually yearn for and work towards promoting Armageddon and the end of the world.’ 5 Mounting Muslim loathing of Christian Zionism nourishes Jewish fear of Israel’s Arab neighbours. It’s a dangerously spiralling vicious circle; the more inflamed the Muslim world becomes, the more terrified Israelis become, and the more comfort they seek in Christian Zionist support, and so on ... At its root, the willingness of hard-headed Zionists to share a bed with millenarian Christian Zionists is the natural corollary of the urgent existential terror gripping much of the Jewish world – a terror firmly rooted in and nourished by the real experience of the Holocaust. The new fear generated by the attacks of 9/11 is what has dragged wider forces – Jewish and Christian neo-cons and President Bush himself – into the vortex of terror. All parties now appear unable to acknowledge their fear’s capacity to generate more ‘evil’. All are blind to the lesson of the mini-Armageddon in Waco, brought about by a fatal combination of the Branch Davidians’ fear of the Satanic power of the American state, their wild imaginings about the End Times and their love of firearms. Enduring fear of another Holocaust has long been motivating American Jews to ensure that, as Josh Reinstein boasted to me in Jerusalem in March 2006, Zionists have nothing to fear whichever political party is in power in America. Israel may never have had a better friend in the White House than George W. Bush but, with most American Jews voting Democrat (80 per cent in the November 2006 mid-term elections) as well as providing a third of that party’s funding, and with lobbying organisations like AIPAC and Malcolm Hoenlein’s Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations hard at work on both sides of the house, the Jewish state is secure against the vagaries of changing administrations.



In the view of Jewish-American Georgetown University emeritus Professor Norman Birnbaum, there is precious little chance of a Democrat president altering the present line on Israel after 2008, simply because the Democrat Party ‘cannot hope to develop an alternative American foreign policy while retaining its present financial and intellectual dependence on the Israel lobby’.6 Certainly, the performance of the Democrats in Congress after November 2006 did not encourage any belief that they would antagonise the Israel lobby by forcing Bush to refocus on brokering a peace in Israel–Palestine. And Christian Zionists and Israel appear to have little to fear from the Democrats’ front-runner for president in 2008, New York Senator Hillary Clinton; she had backed the war in Iraq and already addressed an AIPAC conference. In early 2007 it seemed that, at least as important as whether the president of the United States was a bible literalist advised by proIsrael neo-cons, was whether the Israel lobby and its Jerusalem masters continued to fear a nuclear-arming Iran enough to court and organise ‘the Armageddon crowd’. And, for as long as American millenarians continued to believe that their country’s fate depended on blessing Israel, and to find good reason to interpret everything going on in the Middle East as a sure sign of the End Times, their support for Likud and Israeli settlers and their appetite for war would not diminish. The story of Christian Zionism reveals the roots of a politico-religious alliance, the thriving state of millenarianism in America, and one good reason for the gulf of sympathy separating the United States from her European allies today. But it also illustrates the unbridgeable psychological chasm dividing those with a fear-filled fundamentalist mind-set from those without it, especially in times of tumult and strain when popular anxiety tends towards the former. No more than any other kind of religious fundamentalists will Christian Zionists be wooed away from their bible literalism by theological argument, or shaken out of their beliefs by events turning out differently from how they expect. Again and again, the ideology has proved its chameleon-like ability to change with the times, to plug the gap left by ignorance of history and foreign cultures and assuage an unreasoning existential terror by answering a psychological need to be ‘in the know’ about the future, to feel in control. If the influence of Christian Zionism on western policy continues to exert the hold it does today, there is a chance we may all become allies for Armageddon.

Notes Introduction: Chuck Missler’s Tour of the Holy Land 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Revelation 21: 2. I Thessalonians, 4: 17. Bruce Lawrence, ed., Messages to the World: Osama bin Laden, London, Verso, 2005, p. 215.

Part One Chapter 1: ‘One Book of the Whole Bible’ 1. Henry Finch, The World’s Great Restauration or the Calling of the Iewes and (with them) of all the Nations and Kingdomes of the Earth to the Faith of Christ, London, Edward Griffin, 1621, p. B4. 2. Joseph Hall, The Revelation Unrevealed, London, John Bisse, 1650, p. 103. 3. Ibid. 4. Finch, op. cit., title page. 5. Barbara Tuchman, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, London, Phoenix Press, 2001 (1956), p. 80. 6. Christopher Hill, The English Bible and the Seventeenth-century Revolution, London, Allen Lane, 1993, p. 5. 7. J. F. McGregor and B. Reay, eds, Radical Religion in the English Revolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 2. 8. L. Tomson, trans., The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ Translated out of Greeke by Thedore Beza etc., London, Christopher Barker, 1596. 9. Ibid., pp. 181–2. 10. Finch, op. cit., p. B5. 11. Isaiah 49: 6. 12. Tuchman, op. cit., p. 121. 13. Revd Alexander Grosart, ed., Life and Works of Robert Greene, Vol. 1, 1881–6, Huth Library or Elizabethan–Jacobean unique or very rare books. 14. L. Stephen and Sir S. Lee, eds, Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 1, 1917, entry for Henry Finch. 15. David S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603–1655, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1982, p. 23. 16. Franz Kobler, ‘Sir Henry Finch (1558–1625) and the First English Advocates of the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine’, Jewish Historical Society Transactions, Vol. 16, 1945–51, p. 111.

Notes to pages 34–41


17. Douglas J. Culver, Albion and Ariel: British Puritanism and the Birth of Political Zionism, New York, Peter Lang, 1995, p. 127. 18. Hall, op. cit., p. 6. 19. Katz, op. cit., p. 109. 20. F. D. Dow, Radicalism in the English Revolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 62. 21. Thomas Draxe, The World’s Resurrection or the Generall Calling of the Jews, London, 1608, p. 51. 22. Ibid., p. 77. 23. Ibid., p. 88. 24. Culver, op. cit., p. 78. 25. Thomas Brightman, A Revelation of the Revelation, etc., Amsterdam, 1615, p. 549. 26. Ibid., p. 551. 27. Ibid., p. A4. 28. Ibid., p. A3. 29. Finch, op. cit. 30. Michael White, Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer, London, Fourth Estate, 1997, p. 160. 31. Thomas Fuller, Pisgah Sight of Palestine and the Confines Thereof with the History of the Old and New Testament Acted thereon, London, John William, 1650. 32. Wilfrid R. Prest, ‘The Art of Law and the Law of God: Sir Henry Finch 1558–1625’, in Donald Pennington, ed., Puritans and Revolutionaries: Essays in 17th-century History Presented to Christopher Hill, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 115. 33. J. P. Kenyon, The Stuarts: A Study in English Kingship, London, Fontana/Collins, 1979 (1970), p. 31. 34. Culver, op. cit., p. 101. 35. Kobler, op. cit., p. 114.

Chapter 2: ‘This New English Israel’ 1. Avihu Zakai, Exile and Kingdom: History and Apocalypse in the Puritan Migration to America, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 58. 2. Alan Heimert and Andrew Delbanco, eds, The Puritans in America: A Narrative Anthology, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1985, p. 6. 3. Sarah Bendall, Christopher Brooke and Patrick Collinson, A History of Emmanuel College Cambridge, Woodbridge, The Boydell Press, 1999, p. 195. 4. Cotton Mather, The Great Works of Christ in America: Magnalia Christi Americana, 1702, Vol. 1, Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust, 1979, p. 263. 5. 6. Alexander Young, Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, from 1623 to 1636, Boston, Charles C. Little & James Brown, 1846, p. 12, n. 1. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid., p. 276. 9. Zakai, op. cit., p. 131.


Notes to pages 42–50

10. R. C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop, Vol. 1, Boston, 1869, p. 430. 11. Ibid., p. 235. 12. Shalom Goldman, God’s Sacred Tongue: Hebrew and the American Imagination, Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2004, p. 29. 13. Young, op. cit., p. 250. 14. Zakai, op. cit., p. 65. 15. Mather, op. cit., p. 79. 16. Ibid., p. 80. 17. Ibid., p. 266. 18. E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2003, p. 27. 19. Ibid., p. 32. 20. William J. Scheik, ed., Two Mather Biographies: Life and Death and Parentator, Cranbury, NJ, Associated University Presses, 1989, pp. 41–2. 21. Ibid., p. 9. 22. Mather, op. cit., p. 12. 23. Revd D. de Sola Pool, Hebrew Learning among the Puritans of New England prior to 1700, New York, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 20, 1911, p. 55. 24. Ibid., p. 57. 25. Young, op. cit., p. 133. 26. Richard W. Cogley, John Eliot’s Mission to the Indians before King Philip’s War, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 45. 27. Evangelical Repository, VII, Vol. 1, August 1816. 28. De Sola Pool, op. cit., p. 60. 29. Ibid. 30. Deuteronomy 28: 64. 31. John Freely, The Lost Messiah: The Astonishing Story of Sabbatai Sevi, whose Messianic Movement Emerged from the Mysticism of the Kabbalah, London, Penguin-Viking, 2001, p. 68. 32. Reiner Smolinski, ed., The Threefold Paradise of Cotton Mather, Athens, GA, University of Georgia Press, 1995, p. 23. 33. Goldman, op. cit., p. 132. 34. Smolinski, op. cit., p. 68. 35. Scheik, op. cit., p. 127. 36. Smolinski, op. cit., p. 27. 37. Ibid., p. 29. 38. Ibid., p. 30. 39. Mel Scult, Millennial Expectations and Jewish Liberties: A Study of the Efforts to Convert the Jews in Britain, up to the mid-Nineteenth Century, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1978, p. 50. 40. Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?, Leicester, InterVarsity Press, 2004, p. 150. 41. Acts 10: 34–5.

Notes to pages 51–9


Chapter 3: ‘The English Madness’ 1. A. M. L. Stirling, The Ways of Yesterday, Being the Chronicles of the Way Family from 1307 to 1885, London, Butterworth, 1930, p. 127. 2. Ibid., p. 129. 3. Isaac D’Israeli, The Genius of Judaism, London, 1833, pp. 207–8. 4. Stirling, op. cit., p. 151. 5. Ibid., p. 158. 6. H. H. Norris, The Origins, Progress and Existing Circumstances of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews: An Historical Enquiry, London, R. Gilbert, 1825, pp. 176–7. 7. Stirling, op. cit., p. 178. 8. Ibid., p. 174. 9. Ibid., p. 172. 10. Ibid., p. 193. 11. Ibid. 12. Clarke Garrett, Respectable Folly: Millenarianism in the French Revolution in France and England, Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975, p. 132. 13. Joseph Priestley, Two Sermons, Philadelphia, PA, 1794, p. 41. 14. Richard Beere, A Dissertation on the 13th and 14th Verses of the 8th Chapter of Daniel etc., London, 1791, p. 43. 15. Norman Rose, ed., From Palmerston to Balfour: Collected Essays of Mayir Verete, London, Frank Cass, 1992, pp. 101–2. 16. Edwin S. Gaustad, The Rise of Adventism in Religion and Society in Nineteenth-century America, New York, Harper & Row, 1974, p. 208. 17. Mel Scult, Millennial Expectations and Jewish Liberties: A Study of the Efforts to Convert the Jews in Britain, up to the mid-Nineteenth Century, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1978, p. 81. 18. James Lunn, A Dissertation on the Conversion and Restoration of the Jews, Edinburgh, J. Morren, 1804, p. 46. 19. George Stanley Faber, A Dissertation on the Prophecies that have been fulfilled etc ..., London, F. C. & J. Rivington, 1807, p. 445. 20. Eitan Bar-Yosef, The Holy Land in English Culture 1799–1917: Palestine and the Question of Orientalism, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2005, p. 53. 21. Ibid., p. 52. 22. Garrett, op. cit., p. 199. 23. Nathaniel Bingham, Observations on the Religious Delusions of Insane Persons, London, J. Hatchard & Son, 1841, pp. 117–18. 24. Ibid., p. 133. 25. Bar-Yosef, op. cit., p. 184. 26. Richard A. Davenport, Albury Apostles: The Story of the Body Known as the Catholic Apostolic Church (Sometimes Called the ‘Irvingites’), London, The Free Society, 1973, p. 18. 27. Ibid., p. 9. 28. Edward Irving (a review reprinted from the New Englander, July and October 1864), Edinburgh, Thomas Laurie, 1864, p. 29. 29. Andrew Landale Drummond, Edward Irving and his Circle, London, James Clarke & Co, 1833, p. 51.

294 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48.

49. 50. 51. 52. 53.

54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60.

Notes to pages 59–66 Ibid., p. 53. Ibid. Edward Irving, op. cit., p. 62. Jane Garnett and Colin Matthew, eds, Revival and Religion since 1700, London, Hambledon Press, 1993, p. 105. Davenport, op. cit., p. 19. Margaret Oliphant, The Life of Edward Irving, Minister of the National Scotch Church, London, 2 vols, London, 1862, Vol. 1, p. 357. Personal Recollections of the Right Rev. Robert Daly, Late Bishop of Cashel, by an Old Parishioner, Dublin, George Herbert, 1872, p. 23. Revd Robert Daly, ed., Letters and Papers by the Late Theodosia A, Viscountess Powerscourt, London, Hatchard & Son, 1838, p. 150. J. N. Darby, Letters of John Nelson Darby, Vol. 1: 1832–1868, London, Stow Hill and Bible Trace Depot, n.d., p. 6. E. N. Cross, ed., Turner, W. G., John Nelson Darby: A Biography, 1990 (1901), p. 27. Nathan D. Burnham, A Story of Conflict: The Controversial Relationship between Benjamin Wills Newton and John Nelson Darby, Milton Keynes, Paternoster, 2004, p. 121. Clarence B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism: Its Historical Genesis and Ecclesiastical Implications, Grand Rapids, MI, Wm B. Eerdmans, 1960, p. 129. 1 Thessalonians 4: 17. Personal Recollections, op. cit., p. 23. Avihu Zakai, Exile and Kingdom: History and Apocalypse in the Puritan Emigration to America, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 131. Burnham, op. cit., p. 113. Cross, op. cit., p. 51. Norris, op. cit., p. 35. W. T. Gidney, The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, from 1809–1909, London, Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, 1908, p. 43. Norris, op. cit., p. 62. Ibid., p. 75n. Ibid., p. 507. John Bayford, ed., Missionary Journal and Memoir of the Rev. Joseph Wolff, Vol. 1, London, James Duncan, 1827, p. 314. John W. Kirton, True Nobility or the Golden Deeds of an Earnest Life: A Record of the Career and Labour of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, London, Lock, 1886, p. 51. Ibid., p. 370. Ibid. Ibid., p. 365. Edwin Hodder, The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury KG, London, Cassell, 1887, p. 524. Geoffrey B. A. M. Finlayson, The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury 1801–1885, London, Eyre Methuen, 1981, p. 5. Ibid., p. 22. Ibid., p. 31.

Notes to pages 66–76


61. Ibid., p. 52. 62. Hodder, op. cit., p. 139. 63. Barbara Tuchman, The Bible and the Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, London, Phoenix Press, 2001 (1956), p. 190. 64. Ibid., p. 192. 65. Ibid., p. 193. 66. Albert M. Hyamson, British Projects for the Restoration of the Jews, Leeds, Petty & Sons, 1917, p. 5. 67. Hodder, op. cit., p. 167. 68. Ibid., pp. 168–9. 69. Ibid., p. 167. 70. Ibid. 71. Charles Webster, The Foreign Policy of Palmerston, 1830–1841, London, Bell, 1951, p. 762. 72. Regina Sharif, Non-Jewish Zionism: Its Roots in Western History, London, Zed Press, 1983, p. 55. 73. The Times, 17.8.1840. 74. Evening Mail, 4.12.1840. 75. Hodder, op. cit., p. 375. 76. Ibid., p. 199. 77. Frances Bunsen, Memoirs of Baron Bunsen, Vol. 1, London, Longman, Green, 1869, p. 373. 78. Hodder, op. cit., p. 202. 79. Albert M. Hyamson, The British Consulate in Jerusalem 1838–1914, London, The Jewish Historical Society of England, 1939, pp. 64–5. 80. Hodder, op. cit., p. 329. 81. Adam M. Garfinkle, ‘On the Origin, Meaning, Use and Abuse of a Phrase’, Middle Eastern Studies, London, October 1991, n. 4, p. 539; NRA, London, Shaftesbury (Broadlands) MSS/PD6, 30.7.1853. 82. Ibid., p. 493. 83.

Chapter 4: ‘The Americanising Effect’ 1. Reed M. Holmes, Dreamers of Zion: Joseph Smith and George J. Adams, Conviction, Leadership and Israel’s Renewal, Brighton, Sussex Academic Press, 2003, p. 115 (Sword of Truth and Harbinger of Peace (STHP) 1.2.1866). 2. Ibid., p. 118. 3. Ibid., p. 119 (STHP 15.5.1866). 4. Ibid., p. 148. 5. Hilton Obenzinger, American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1999, p. 183. 6. Holmes, op. cit., p. 138. 7. Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad; Roughing It, New York, The Library of America, 1984 (1869), p. 490. 8. Holmes, op. cit., p. 136 (STHP 15.5.1867). 9. Ibid., p. 144. 10. Twain, op. cit, p. 490.


Notes to pages 77–87

11. Holmes, op. cit., p. 78. 12. Ibid., p. 144. 13. Barbara Kreiger, Divine Expectations: An American Woman in Nineteenthcentury Palestine, Athens, OH, Ohio University Press, 1999, p. 17. 14. Herman Melville, Journal of a Visit to Europe and the Levant, October 11, 1856 to May 6, 1857, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1955, p. 159. 15. Arnold Blumberg, ed., A View from Jerusalem 1849–1858: The Consular Diary of James and Elizabeth Anne Finn, London, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1980, p. 314. 16. John Nelson Darby, Letters of J.N.D., London, G. Morrish, 1886–9, Vol. 2, p. 225. 17. Ibid., p. 125. 18. J. N. Darby, Letters of John Nelson Darby, Vol. 1: 1832–1868, London, Straw Hill and Bible Trace Depot, n.d., p. 487. 19. Ibid., p. 173. 20. Darby, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 449. 21. Edwin S. Gaustad, The Rise of Adventism: Religion and Society in Nineteenthcentury America, New York, Harper & Row, 1974, p. xii. 22. Moshe Davis, ed., The American Republic and Ancient Israel, New York, Arno Press, 1977, p. 12. 23. Ibid., p. 17. 24. Ibid., p. 24. 25. Isaiah 18: 1. 26. John McDonald, A New Translation of Isaiah Chapter Eighteen, Albany, E. & E. Hosford, 1814, p. 10. 27. Moshe Davis, America and the Holy Land: With Eyes Toward Zion – IV, Westport, CT, Praeger, 1995, p. 15. 28. Israel’s Advocate, Vol. 1, January 1823. 29. Ibid., Vol. 2, February 1824. 30. Shalom Goldman, God’s Sacred Tongue: Hebrew and the American Imagination, Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2004, p. 204. 31. Melville, op. cit., p. 158. 32. Herman Melville, White Jacket: The World in a Man-of-War, London, Richard Bentley, 1850, pp. 238–9. 33. Isaac Taylor, A Natural History of Enthusiasm, New York, Robert Carter & Bros, 1868, pp. 98–9. 34. Ibid., p. 115. 35. W. Blair Neatby, The History of the Plymouth Brethren, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1901, p. 50. 36. 37. James H. Brookes, Maranatha: The Lord Cometh, London, Alfred Holness, 1899 (1870), pp. 545–6. 38. Ibid., p. 398. 39. Ibid., p. 444. 40. Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800–1930, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1970, p. 135. 41. Ibid. 42. David A. Rausch, Zionism within Early American Fundamentalism 1878–1918, New York, Edwin Mellen Press, 1979, p. 86.

Notes to pages 87–97


43. John Pollock, Moody: A Biography, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Books, 1997 (1963), p. 23. 44. Sandeen, op. cit., p. 173. 45. James F. Findlay, Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1969, p. 409. 46. Ibid., p. 253. 47. Dwight L. Moody, New Sermons, New York, Henry S. Goodspeed, 1880, p. 535. 48. Jane Lampman, ‘The End of the World’, Christian Science Monitor, 18.2.2004. 49. Pollock, op. cit., p. 41. 50. Ibid., p. 146. 51. Ibid., p. 142. 52. Darby, op. cit. Vol. 2, p. 193. 53. Ibid., p. 398. 54. Genesis 22: 17. 55. Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Politics of Apocalypse, The History and Influence of Christian Zionism, Oxford, One World, 2006, p. 99. 56. Yaakov Ariel, On Behalf of Israel: American Fundamentalist Attitudes towards Jews, Judaism and Zionism 1865–1945, New York, Carlson, 1991, p. 179. 57. Timothy P. Weber, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic, 2004, p. 26. 58. Topeka Daily Capital, 27.8.1881. 59. Dr C. I. Scofield, Prophecy Made Plain: Addresses on Prophecy, London, Pickering & Inglis, n.d., p. 12. 60. Ibid., p. 60. 61. Ibid., p. 128. 62. Ibid., p. 113. 63. Revd C. I. Scofield, DD, ed., The Scofield Reference Bible, New York, Oxford University Press, 1909, preface. 64. William E. Cox, An Examination of Dispensationalism, Philadelphia, PA, Presbyterian & Reformed, n.d., p. 56. 65. James Barr, Escaping from Fundamentalism, London, SCM, 1984, p. 6. 66. Ibid. 67. 68. William E. Blackstone, Jesus is Coming, London, Fleming H. Revell, 1908, p. 235. 69. Ibid. 70. Ibid. 71. Zechariah 13: 8. 72. Persecution of the Jews in Russia 1881 (reprinted from The Times), London, Spottiswoode, 1882, p. 13. 73. A. E. Thompson, A Century of Jewish Missions, Chicago, Fleming H. Revell, 1902, p. 273. 74. Hilton Obenzinger, ‘In the Shadow of “God’s Sun-dial”’, Stanford Electronic Humanities Review, Vol. 5, issue 1, 27.2.1996, p. 6. 75. Ibid., p. 14. 76. Ibid., p. 9. 77. Ibid., p. 10. 78. Davis, America and the Holy Land, pp. 15–17.


Notes to pages 97–107

79. Adam M. Garfinkle, ‘On the Origin, Meaning, Use and Abuse of a Phrase’, Middle Eastern Studies, London, Oct. 1991, n. 4, p. 539.

Chapter 5: ‘A Great Idea’ 1. Desmond Stewart, Theodor Herzl: Artist and Politician, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1974, p. 23. 2. Luke 21: 24. 3. Revelation 11: 2. 4. Paul Charles Merkley, The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891–1948, London, Frank Cass, 1998, p. 7. 5. Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Politics of Apocalypse: The History and Influence of Christian Zionism, Oxford, One World, 2006, p. 44. 6. Marvin Lowenthal, ed. and trans., The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, London, Victor Gollancz, 1958, p. 104. 7. Ibid., p. 106. 8. Ibid. 9. Ibid. 10. Howard M. Sachar, ed., The Rise of Israel: A Documentary Record from the 19th Century to 1948, New York, Garland, 1987, p. 39. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid., p. 40. 13. Claude Duvernoy, The Prince and the Prophet, Christian Action for Israel, 1979, p. 43. 14. Lowenthal, op. cit., p. 113. 15. Ibid., p. 123. 16. Sachar, op. cit., p. 50. 17. Lowenthal, op. cit., p. 124. 18. Ibid., p. 125. 19. Ibid., p. 200. 20. Duvernoy, op. cit., p. 48. 21. Ibid., p. 49. 22. Sachar, op. cit., p. 52. 23. Ibid. 24. Merkley, op. cit., pp. 15–16. 25. Lowenthal, op. cit., p. 56. 26. Ibid., p. 57. 27. Ibid., p. 68. 28. Ibid. 29. Duvernoy, op. cit., p. 65. 30. Lowenthal, op. cit., p. 291. 31. Ibid., p. 287. 32. Duvernoy, op. cit., p. 73. 33. Ibid., p. 77. 34. Barbara Tuchman, The Bible and the Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, London, Phoenix Press, 2001 (1956), p. 296. 35. Ibid., p. 297. 36. David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and

Notes to pages 108–17

37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44.

45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.

51. 52.

53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68.


the Creation of the Modern Middle East, London, Phoenix Press, 2000 (1989), p. 274. Raphael Patai, ed., Herzl Year Book: Essays in Zionist History and Thought, Vol. 4, New York, Herzl Press, 1961–2, p. 234. David Pileggi, The Meeting that Changed the World, articles/english/e-u–00–1-pile-meetchangworld.htm Michael Polowetzky, Jerusalem Recovered: Victorian Intellectuals and the Birth of Modern Zionism, Westport, CT, Praeger, 1995, pp. 57–8. (accessed 24.8.2005). Laurence Oliphant, The Land of Gilead, Edinburgh, William Blackwood & Sons, 1880, p. 503. Margaret Oliphant, Memoir of the Life of Laurence Oliphant, Edinburgh, William Blackwood & Sons, 1891, Vol. 2, p. 169. Albert M. Hyamson, British Projects for the Restoration of the Jews, London, 1917, p. 30. Henry Finch, The World’s Great Restauration or the Calling of the Iewes and (with them) of all the Nations and Kingdomes of the Earth to the Faith of Christ, London, Edward Griffin, 1621. L. Oliphant, op. cit., p. 293. George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, London, Wordsworth, 1996 (1876), p. 445. Ibid., p. 393. Ibid., p. 668. Ibid., p. 669. ‘Evangelical Teaching: Dr Cumming’, Westminster Review, Oct. 1885, p. 455; George Eliot, quoted in Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Grand Rapids, MI, William B. Erdmans, 1994, p. 143. Ibid., p. 121. Beth-Zion Lask Abrahams, George Eliot: Her Jewish Associations – A Centenary Tribute, London, Jewish Historical Society of England Transactions 1974–1978, 1979, p. 59. Spectator, 9.9.1876. Ruth Levitt, George Eliot: The Jewish Connection, Jerusalem, Massada, 1975, p. 149. Abrahams, op. cit., p. 60. Polowetzky, op. cit., p. 92. Abrahams, op. cit., p. 54. Polowetzky, op. cit., p. 79. Ibid., p. 80. Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1949, p. 143. Ibid., p. 144. Fromkin, op. cit., p. 294. Blanche E. C. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour, London, Hutchinson, 1939, p. 325. Ibid., p. 86. Weizmann, op. cit., p. 200. Ibid., p. 226. Fromkin, op. cit., p. 298.


Notes to pages 117–27

69. Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate, London, Abacus, 2001 (2000), p. 36. 70. Jill Hamilton, God, Guns and Israel: Britain, the First World War and the Jews in the Holy Land, Stroud, Sutton, 2004, p. x. 71. Trevor Wilson, ed., The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, London, Collins, 1970, p. 27. 72. Ibid., pp. 22–3. 73. Daphna Baram, Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel, London, Guardian Books, 2004, p. 30. 74. Ibid., p. 38. 75. Fromkin, op. cit., pp. 269–70. 76. Wilson, op. cit, p. 255. 77. Ibid., p. 306. 78. David Lloyd George, Memoirs of the Peace Conference, Vol. 2, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1939, p. 721. 79. Michael J. Pragai, Faith and Fulfilment: Christians and the Return to the Promised Land, London, Valentine Mitchell, 1985, p. 87. 80. Fromkin, op. cit., p. 287. 81. Ibid., p. 247. 82. Segev, op. cit., pp. 37–8. 83. Ibid., p. 45. 84. Weizmann, op. cit., p. 20.

Chapter 6: ‘The Wrong Kind of Jew’ 1. William E. Blackstone, Jesus Is Coming, London, Revell, 1908, p. 213. 2. T. L. B. Westerdale, The Coming Miracle, God and the Jews: A Little Book Dealing with the Great Prophecy of Isaiah and Jesus concerning the Jewish Race, and its Dramatic Fulfilment in History, London, Marshall Brothers, 1919, p. 15. 3. J. M. Stears, As Birds Flying, or Jerusalem 1917: The Most Amazing Event of Our Times, London, Covenant, 1954, p. 5. 4. G. Harold Lancaster, Prophecy, the War and the Near East, London, Marshall Brothers, 1918 (1916), preface. 5. Ibid., p. 241. 6. Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Politics of Apocalypse: The History and Influence of Christian Zionism, Oxford, One World, 2006, p. 110. 7. Timothy P. Weber, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic, 2004, p. 79. 8. Ibid., p. 82. 9. William G. McLoughlin, Billy Sunday Was His Real Name, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1955, p. 256. 10. Ibid., p. 258. 11. Ibid., p. 257. 12. Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture, Cambridge, MA, The Belknap Press, 1992, p. 102. 13. Donald W. Dayton, ed., The Prophecy Conference Movement, Vol. 4, New York, Garland, 1988, pp. 144–5.

Notes to pages 127–39


14. Hilton Obenzinger, ‘In the Shadow of “God’s Sun-dial”’, SEHR, Vol. 5, issue 1, 27.2.1996, p. 12. 15. Col. Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary, 1917–1956, London, Cresset Press, 1959, p. 52. 16. Josiah C. Wedgwood, The Seventh Dominion, London, Labour Publishing, 1928, p. 120. 17. Josiah C. Wedgwood, Memoirs of a Fighting Life, London, Hutchinson, 1941, p. 8. 18. Joshua B. Stein, Our Great Solicitor: Josiah C. Wedgwood and the Jews, Selinsgrove, PA, Susquehanna University Press, 1992, p. 16. 19. Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate, London, Abacus, 2001 (2000), p. 337n. 20. Ibid., p. 138. 21. Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, New York, W. W. Norton, 2001 (2000), p. 13. 22. Stein, op. cit., p. 37. 23. Ibid. 24. Ibid., p. 38. 25. Ibid., p. 39. 26. Ibid., p. 2. 27. C. V. Wedgwood, The Last of the Radicals, London, Jonathan Cape, 1951, p. 244. 28. Ibid., p. 122. 29. Ibid., p. 55. 30. 31. Norman Rose, ed., Baffy: The Diaries of Blanche Dugdale, 1936–1947, London, Valentine Mitchell, 1973, p. 23. 32. Ibid., p. 175. 33. Ibid., p. 171. 34. Trevor Royle, Orde Wingate: Irregular Soldier, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1995, p. 110. 35. Ibid., p. 127. 36. Ibid. 37. Stein, op. cit., p. 79. 38. C. V. Wedgwood, op. cit., pp. 193–4. 39. Leonard Mosley, Gideon Goes to War: The Story of Wingate, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1957 (1955), p. 58. 40. Stein, op. cit., p. 143. 41. Genesis 12: 3. 42. Victor E. Marsden, The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, Clwyd, British Patriot Publishing, 1978, p. 44. 43. Ibid., p. 99. 44. Carey McWilliams, A Mask for Privilege: Anti-Semitism in America, Little, Brown, 1949, pp. 37–8. 45. Weber, op. cit., p. 140. 46. William Vance Trollinger, God’s Empire: William Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism, Madison, WI, University of Wisconsin Press, 1990, p. 78. 47. Ibid., p. 151.


Notes to pages 140–56

48. Psalms 137: 1. 49. Michael T. Benson, Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, Westport, CT, Praeger, 1997, p. x. 50. Ibid., p. 34. 51. Ibid., p. 94. 52. David McCullough, Truman, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1992, p. 599. 53. Ibid., p. 598. 54. Benson, op. cit., p. 127. 55. Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1949, p. 579. 56. Deuteronomy 1: 8. 57. Benson, op. cit., p. 156. 58. Ibid. 59. Allen Wanston and Moshe Ma’oz, eds, Truman and the American Commitment to Israel, Jerusalem, Magnes Press, 1981, p. 84. 60. Barry Hankins, God’s Rascal: J. Frank Norris and the Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism, Lexington, KY, 1996, p. 82. 61. Weber, op. cit., p. 173. 62. Louis Sahagun, ‘End Times Religious Groups Want Apocalypse Soon’, Los Angeles Times, 22.6.2006.

Part Two 1. Grace Halsell, Forcing God’s Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture – and Destruction of Planet Earth, Washington, DC, Crossroads International, 1999, p. 5. 2.

Chapter 7: Apocalypse Loud 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

David Gates, ‘The Pop Prophets’, Newsweek, 16.5.2004. Luisa Kroll, ‘Megachurches, Megabusinesses’, Forbes Magazine, 17.9.2003. Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, New York, W. W. Norton, 2006, p. 5. Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1970, p. 47. Ibid., p. 173. Ibid. Ibid. Matthew 16: 3; 23: 32–5. Stephen O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric, New York, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 143. Hal Lindsey, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, New York, Bantam, 1981, p. 5. Ibid., p. 6. Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, Westport, CT, E. J. Hill, 1989, p. 45.

Notes to pages 157–67 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.



Ibid., p. 7. Ibid., p. 165. (accessed August 2006). J. G. Melton, P. C. Lucas, and J. R. Stone, eds, Prime Time Religion: An Encyclopedia of Religious Broadcasting, Phoenix, AZ, Oryx Press, 1997, p. xi. Schedule picked up by author in Revd Falwell’s St Thomas Road Church, Lynchburg, Virginia. Melton et al., op. cit., p. 57. David Brog, Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State, Lake Mary, FL, Front Line, 2006, p. 139. Brenda E. Brasher, ed., Encyclopaedia of Fundamentalism, New York, Routledge, 2001, p. 296. Michael Massing, ‘The End of the News?’, New York Review, 1.12.2005. Genesis 12: 3. Amos 9: 15. Chris Hedges, ‘Soldiers of Christ II’, Harper’s Magazine, 30.5.2005. Byron York, ‘Does Pat Robertson Matter?’, National Review, 25.8.2005. Wikipedia entry for Hal Lindsey. John Hagee, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, Lake Mary, FL, Front Line, 2006, p. 13. Ibid., pp. 13–15. Ibid., pp. 28–9. Ibid., p. 108. Ibid., p. 113. Ibid., p. 101. Ibid., p. 119. ‘Is this the Start of World War III?’, Jerusalem Post, 17.7.2006. Brog, op. cit., p. xiii. Ibid., pp. 143–4. Ibid., p. 151. Ibid., p. 154. Ibid., p. 256. Norman Birnbaum, ‘Is Israel Good for the Jews?’, The Nation Online, 5.8.2006. Norman Birnbaum, ‘Israel on the Potomac: Power under Pressure’, Open Democracy Online, 25.1.2007. Ibid. Pat Robertson, The End of the Age, Dallas, TX, World Publishing, 1995, p. 22. Ibid., p. 333. Ibid., p. 335. Ibid., p. 364. Ibid., p. 372. Henry Finch, The World’s Great Restauration or the Calling of the Iewes and (with them) of all the Nations and Kingdomes of the Earth to the Faith of Christ, London, Edward Griffin, 1621. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last


Notes to pages 167–84

Days, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House, 1995, pp. 21–2. 56. Ibid., p. 23. 57. Ibid. 58. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House, 2003, p. 122. 59. Ibid., p. 298. 60. Ibid., p. 314. 61. Ibid., p. 312. 62. Ibid., p. 331. 63. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, The Glorious Appearing: The End of Days, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House, 2004, p. 225. 64. Ibid., p. 396. 65. CNN, 3.10.2001. 66. Nancy Gibbs, ‘Apocalypse Now’, Time, 23.6.2002. 67. Karen Horst Cobb, ‘America’s Doctrine and the Rise of False Christianity’,, 16.2.2006. 68. David D. Kirkpatrick, ‘The Wrath and the Mercy: The Return of the Warrior Jesus’, New York Times, 4.4.2004. 69. ‘What We Believe ...’, Time, 30.10.2006. 70. Joan Didion, ‘Mr Bush and the Divine’, New York Review of Books, 6.11.2003. 71. David Gates, ‘The New Prophets of Revelation’, Newsweek, 24.5.2004. 72. Joel C. Rosenberg, The Ezekiel Option, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House, 2005, p. 158. 73. Mark Kellner, ‘A Dread Come True?’, Washington Times, 27.7.2005. 74. Rosenberg, op. cit., p. 197. 75. Ibid., p. 157. 76. Ibid., p. 173. 77. Ibid., p. 391. 78. 700 Club, 31.7.2006 – 79. 80. 81.

Chapter 8: ‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’ 1. Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 110. 2. Ezekiel 37: 10–14, Authorized Version. 3. 4. Grace Halsell, Forcing God’s Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture – and the Destruction of Planet Earth, Washington, DC, Crossroads International 1999, p. 93. 5. 60 Minutes, 12.10.2002. 6. 60 Minutes, 8.10.2002. 7. 700 Club, 13.9.2001. 8. G. Melton, P. C. Lucas and J. R. Stone, eds, Prime-time Religion: An Encyclopedia of Religious Broadcasting, Phoenix, AZ, Oryx Press, 1997, p. 94.

Notes to pages 185–91


9. Alan Cooperman, ‘Democrats Win Bigger Share of Religious Vote’, Washington Post, 11.11.2006. 10. Craig Unger, ‘American “Rapture”’, Vanity Fair, 28.11.2005. 11. ‘A Christian Manifesto’, 1982, 12. Unger, op. cit. 13. 14. Wikipedia: Francis Schaeffer. 15. ‘A Christian Manifesto’, 1982, 16. Frances Fitzgerald, ‘A Disciplined, Charging Army’, The New Yorker, 18.5.1981. 17. Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind, Old Tappan, NJ, Fleming H. Revell, 1979, p. 57. 18. Ibid., p. 29. 19. Ibid., p. 76. 20. Ibid., p. 143. 21. Ibid., p. 109. 22. Ibid., p. 51. 23. Ibid., pp. 139, 191, 225. 24. Ibid., p. 200. 25. Dinesh D’Souza, Falwell: Before the Millennium, Chicago, Regnery Gateway, 1984, p. 10. 26. Lawrence J. Epstein, Zion’s Call: Christian Contributions to the Origins and Development of Israel, Lanham, MD, University Press of America, 1984, p. 131. 27. Ibid., p. 133. 28. ABC, ‘Directions’, 1.11.1981. 29. Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War, Westport, CT, E. J. Hill, 1986, p. 10. 30. Nancy Gibbs, ‘Apocalypse Now’, Time, 23.6.2002. 31. ‘The Washington Diarist’, New Republic, 12.11.1984. 32. Donald Wagner, ‘Bible and Sword: US Christian Zionists Discover Israel’, Daily Star, Lebanon, 10.10.2003. 33. Timothy P. Weber, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic, 2004, p. 203. 34. Edward Tivnan, The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 252. 35. Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, op. cit., p. 156. 36. Ibid., p. 73. 37. Ibid. 38. Harding, op. cit., p. 232. 39. Wagner, op. cit. 40. Phyllis Bennis, ‘Praise God and Pass the Ammunition’, Middle East Report, Fall 1998. 41. Tivnan, op. cit., p. 181. 42. Allan C. Brownfield, ‘Fundamentalists and the Millennium: A Potential Threat to Middle Eastern Peace’, Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, June 1999. 43. Halsell, Forcing God’s Hand, op. cit., p. 100. 44. 45.

306 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84.

Notes to pages 192–9 North American Scene, Christianity Today, 7.8.1981. Halsell, Forcing God’s Hand, op. cit., p. 59. Brownfield, op. cit. Donald Wagner, ‘The Interregnum: Christian Zionism in the Clinton Years’, Daily Star Lebanon, 11.10.2003. Brownfield, op. cit. Bennis, op. cit. Weber, op. cit., p. 224. Donald Wagner, ‘Evangelicals and Israel: Theological Roots of a Political Alliance’, Christian Century, 4.11.1998. Unger, in Vanity Fair, op. cit. Ibid. 06.01.2006 ‘Falwell Confirms Lewinsky Affair Linked to Israeli Lobby Intrigue’ by Michael Collins Piper. Unger, in Vanity Fair, op. cit. Erling Jorstad, Holding Fast, Pressing On: Religion in America in the 1980s, New York, Praeger, 1990, p. 81. Michael Lind, ‘Rev. Robertson’s Great International Conspiracy Theory’, New York Review of Books, 2.2.1995. Ibid. David Brog, Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State, Lake Mary, FL, Frontline, 2006, p. 244. Ibid. Victoria Clark, ‘The Christian Zionists’, Prospect, July 2002. ‘Religion and the Presidential Vote’, The Pew Research Centre, 6.12.2004. Victoria Clark, ‘The Christian Zionists’, Prospect, July 2003. Matthew Engel, ‘Meet the New Zionists’, The Guardian, 28.10.2002 . Ibid. David D. Kirkpatrick, ‘Club of the Powerful Gathers in Strictest Secrecy’, New York Times, 28.8.2004. Unger, op. cit. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, New York, W. W. Norton, 2006, p. 187. Sarah Posner, ‘Just Who Is the CNP, and Why Aren’t They Paying Taxes?’, The Gadflyer, 21.2.2005. Ibid.

Notes to pages 200–22


85. Unger, op. cit.

Chapter 9: Watchmen for Israel 1. Greg Grandin, ‘Good Christ, Bad Christ?’, Counterpunch, 9/10.9.2006. 2. Charles Marsh, ‘Wayward Christian Soldiers’, New York Times, 20.1.2006. 3. Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War, New York, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 146. 4. Ibid., p. 133. 5. Ezekiel 3: 17. 6. Frank Rich, ‘Now on DVD: The Passion of Bush’, New York Times, 3.10.2004. 7. 8. Art Toalston, ‘Lack of NAE Stance on Israel–Hezbollah Clash is a “Grave Disappointment” Baptist Says’, Baptist News, 17.8.2006. 9. Ibid. 10. 11. 12. Jeremiah 30: 6–7. 13. International Christian Zionist Center Newsletter, 07.6.2006. 14. Isaiah 40: 1–2. 15. International Christian Zionist Center Newsletter, 18.7.2006. 16. Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, New York, W. W. Norton, 2006, p. 207. 17. Scott Thompson and Jeffrey Steinberg, ‘25-year “Shotgun Marriage” of Israel’s Likud and US Fundamentalist Right’, Executive Intelligence Review, 29.11.2002. 18. President Bush, 2.4.2002 news conference. 19. CBS, 60 Minutes, 8.6.2003, ‘Zion’s Christian Soldiers’. 20. Barbara Victor, The Last Crusade: Religion and the Politics of Misdirection, London, Constable, 2005, p. 109. 21. 22. Victoria Clark, ‘The Christian Zionists’, Prospect, July 2003. 23. Victoria Clark, Holy Fire: The Battle for Christ’s Tomb, London, Macmillan, 2005, p. 250. 24. Joshua 18: 3. 25. Judy Lash Balint, ‘You Don’t Make Mistakes in Israel ...’, Forward Magazine, 8.10.2004. 26. Ibid. 27. Tom DeLay, ‘Be Not Afraid’, National Review Online, 30.7.2003. 28. 29. Judy Lash Balint, ‘You’re Not in Kansas Any More’, Jerusalem Diaries, 24.7.2004. 30. 31. Andrew Higgins, ‘Holy War: A Texas Preacher Leads Campaign to Let Israel Fight’, Wall Street Journal, 27.7.2006. 32. Julia Duin, ‘Christian Group to Advocate More Support for Israel’, Washington Times, 13.7.2006. 33. Max Blumenthal, ‘Birth Pangs of a New Christian Zionism’, The Nation, 14.8.2006.


Notes to pages 222–44

34. Ibid. 35. Ibid. 36. Joel C. Rosenberg, The Ezekiel Option, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House, 2005, p. 391. 37. Irwin Stelzer, ed., Neo-Conservatism, London, Atlantic Books, 2004, p. 105. 38. 39. Jerusalem Post, 5.9.2006. 40. Jeremy Reynalds, ‘Arab Church Leaders Reject Christian Zionism’, ASSIST News Agency, 12.9.2006. 41. Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis and Maurine Tobin, eds, Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics and Israel/Palestine Conflict, London, Melisende, 2005, p. 17. 42. CBS, 60 Minutes, 8.6.2003, ‘Zion’s Christian Soldiers’. 43. Larry B. Stammer, ‘Evangelical Leaders Criticize Pat Robertson’, Los Angeles Times, 7.1.2006. 44. REPORTS&SURVEY_ID=1180

Chapter 10: ‘Two Shining Cities upon a Hill’ 1. Zev Chafets, ‘The Rabbi Who Loved Evangelicals (and Vice Versa)’, New York Times, 24.7.2005. 2. Ruth Sinai, ‘When Money Speaks Louder than the Word’, Ha’aretz, 7.1.2006. 3. Netty C. Gross, ‘Theology Be Damned’, Jerusalem Report, 11.5.2003. 4., 31.5.2006, ‘Councilwoman against Israeli Dependence on Evangelical Money’. 5. 6. Richard Hellman, ‘Rabbi Reassures Jews About Evangelicals’, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, 17.2.2006. 7. 8. ‘Hardball’, MSNBC, 1.5.2002. 9. Mike Dorning, ‘Ad Pitch for Israel Aimed at Christians’, Chicago Tribune, 17.8.2006. 10. Chafets, op. cit. 11. REPORT&SURVEY_ID=1801 12. Wikipedia: Tom DeLay. 13. 14. 15. Tim Curry, ‘DeLay Makes Intense Appeal for Jewish Voters’, MSNBC; 1.9.2004. 16. Nir Ori, ‘House Sets Limits on Palestinian Aid as DeLay Defies Calls of Bush, Rice’, Forward, 18.3.2005. 17. 18. 19. Dean and Susan Wheelock, The Quiet Revival, Lakewood, WI, Hebrew Roots Press, 2001, p. 3. 20. Bill Berkowitz, ‘US–Israel: A Crisis of Faith over Evangelicals’ Help’, Frost

Notes to pages 244–69


Illustrated, 18.9.2006. 21. Sarah Pulliam, ‘Volcanic Response: Jews for Jesus Takes to New York City Streets’, Christianity Today, 25.8.2006. 22. Larry Dorfner and Ksenia Svetlova, ‘Messianic Jews in Israel Claim 10,000’, Jerusalem Post, 29.4.2005. 23. 24. Irwin Stelzer, ed., Neo-conservatism, London, Atlantic Books, 2004, p. 9. 25. 26. Michael Lind, Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, New York, Basic Books, 2003, p. 140. 27. Ibid. 28. Wikipedia: John Bolton. 29., 27.9.2006, ‘John Bolton and US Lawlessness’ by Jon Basil Utley. 30. 27.07.2006, ‘John Bolton’s Dual Loyalties’ by Tom Barry. 31. Ibid. 32. Ha’aretz, 5.3.2006. 33. William Koenig, Eye to Eye: Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel, Alexandria, VA, About Him Publishing, 2004, p. 9. 34. Ibid., pp. 28–9. 35. Ibid., p. 351. 36. Ibid., p. 353. 37. Ibid., p. 356. 38. Ibid., p. 358. 39. Ibid., p. 354. 40. Ibid., p. 359.

Chapter 11: Talking Texan 1. Jean Gordon, ‘More Q and As with Jerry Falwell’, Clarion-Ledger, 28.7.2006. 2. Michael Lind, Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, New York, Basic Books, 2003, p. 159. 3. Teresa Watanabe, ‘Christians Split over Conflict in the Mideast’, Los Angeles Times, 2.5.2002. 4. Ruthie Nahmias, ‘Lieberman: Treat Gaza like Chechnya’,, 1.11.2006. 5. Gideon Samet, ‘A Strange Silence Over a Severe Crisis’, Ha’aretz, 4.11.2006. 6. Genesis 49: 25; Deuteronomy 32: 12–13; 33: 13, 19 and 24; Isaiah 45: 3. Authorized Version. 7. Genesis 19: 24. 8. 9. Randall Price, The Battle for the Last Days Temple, Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2004, foreword. 10. Ibid., p. 242. 11. Robert I. Friedman, Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel’s West Bank Settlement Movement, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1992, p. 145. 12. (accessed November 2006) 13. Gershon Gorenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, New York, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 25.


Notes to pages 269–88

14. Rod Dreher, ‘Red Heifer Days’, National Review Online, 11.4.2002. 15. Sarah Posner, ‘Pastor Strangelove’, The American Prospect Online Edition, 6.6.2006. 16. Speech given at Jerusalem Summit Europe, 28.1.2007 at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. 17. John 14: 6. 18. Peter Hirschberg, ‘Netanyahu: It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany: Ahmadinejad is preparing another Holocaust’, Ha’aretz, 14.11.2006. 19. Psalm 122: 6. Authorized Version. 20. Etgar Lefkovits, ‘Bibi: Evangelicals Are Israel’s Best Friends’, Jerusalem Post, 8.11.2005. 21. 22. Joel 3: 2. 23. Rabbi Barry Block, ‘Be Wary of Evangelical Support for Israel’, Jewish Standard, 13.7.2006. 24. Rabbi Haim Beliak and Jane Hunter, ‘Christian Zionism Raises Questions among Jewish Community’, San Antonio Express, 20.10.2006. 25. Michael Massing, ‘Deal Breakers’, American Prospect Magazine, March 2002.

Afterword 1. Ron Kampeas, ‘Falwell Left Jews with Mixed Feelings’, The Jewish Week, 18.05.07. 2. Zev Chafets, A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists and One Man’s Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance, New York, HarperCollins, 2007, pp. 207–8. 3. ‘Doing it by the Book’, Economist, 3.3.2007. 4. Badih Chayban, ‘Nasrallah Alleges “Christian Zionist” Plot’, Daily Star, Lebanon, 23.10.2002. 5. 6.


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Abdul Hamid II, Sultan 110, 111 Abdul Mejid I, Sultan 75 Abrams, Elliott 222, 249 Adams, Pastor George J. 73–7, 83, 92, 96, 104, 160, 203, 261 Adams, President John Quincy 82, 117 Afghanistan 156, 271 Ahmedinejad, President Mahmood 147, 176, 222–3, 281–3, 284 Aix-la-Chapelle 53–4 Al-Arish peninsula 106–7 Al-Qaeda 170, 220, 284 Albury Park prophecy conferences 58–60, 65, 86, 183 Alexander I, Tsar 52–4, 96, 102, 143 Alexander II, Tsar 100 Alexander, Bishop Michael Solomon 70–1, 99 Allenby, General Edmund 87, 108, 119–21, 128 Alpher, Yossi 229–30, 231 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 165, 183, 190, 196, 222, 233, 236–7, 239, 246, 250, 281, 286, 288, 289 American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews 82 Americans United for the Separation of Church and State 197 American Values (AV) 66, 200, 221, 241, 246–8 Antichrist 7, 10, 18, 20, 36, 45, 56, 62, 93, 94, 97, 125, 126, 127, 152, 155, 163, 166, 168–9, 172–3, 216, 245,

249, 266, 277 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) 195–6, 229, 231, 232, 285 anti-Semitism 11, 12, 86, 94, 99, 100–1, 103, 105, 110, 116, 120, 135, 136–9, 152, 165, 187, 195, 216, 223, 225, 227, 228, 230, 247, 278, 280 Argentina 72, 100, 108 Ariel 210, 211, 255, 282 Ark of the Covenant 105, 177, 259 Arlington Group 200, 209, 221, 241, 247 Armageddon 4, 10, 16, 56, 62, 94, 125, 127, 139, 146, 151–2, 155–7, 163, 168, 187–8, 213, 223, 232, 238, 245, 250, 259, 264–5, 267, 271, 276, 287, 289 Armey, Dick 234 Arthur, Kay 159, 229 Ashcroft, John 195, 233 Asquith, Herbert 119 Ateek, Dr Naim 227–8 Ayalon, Danni 240 Babylon 11, 166, 167, 173, 174, 266 Bacevich, Andrew J. 202 The New American Militarism 202 Balfour, Arthur J. 66, 114–22, 140, 145 Balfour Declaration 87, 108, 117, 121–2, 126, 129, 131, 135–6, 140, 155, 224, 286 Balsiger, David A. 207 George W. Bush: Faith in the White House 207–8

Index Barak, Prime Minister Ehud 218 Baras, Sondra Oster 213, 223–5, 245, 267, 271 Bar-Yosef, Eitan 58 Bauer, Gary 66, 200, 221, 241, 246–51, 276, 278 Beckett, Ted 201–14, 215, 218, 219, 223, 230, 257, 267, 274, 276, 280 Begin, Prime Minister Menachem 156, 163, 190–2, 210, 218, 260, 274 Ben-Gurion, David 129, 133, 134, 143 Beza, Theodore 30–1, 49, 91 Bible 27–31, 49 Geneva 30–1, 49, 91 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 92 prophecy 1, 3–4, 7–8, 10–11, 16, 29, 33, 38, 44, 53, 56, 60, 63, 66, 73, 78, 92, 98, 108, 111, 116, 123–7, 139, 149, 154–6, 168, 170–1, 190, 206, 238, 242, 275 Bingham, Nathaniel 58 Observations on the Religious Delusions of Insane Persons 58 Bin Laden, Osama 5 Birnbaum, Norman 165–6, 289 Blackstone, William E. 92–7, 98, 101, 104, 107, 108, 111, 123, 127, 144, 189, 276 Jesus is Coming 93, 123, 154 Memorial 95–7, 111, 112, 144, 276 Blair, Prime Minister Tony 224, 251 Bolton, John 250–1, 257, 284 Branch Davidians 263–5, 288 Brandeis, Louis 93, 97 Brightman, Thomas 35–6, 44, 47, 59, 99, 123, 174 A Revelation of the Revelation 36, 44 British East Africa (Uganda) 72, 107–8, 110, 114–15 Brog, David 164, 222, 276, 286 Standing with Israel 164 Brookes, James H. 86–7, 90, 92–3, 123, 182 Maranatha 86, 93, 182 Brothers, Richard 57 Brownback, Sam 220, 237, 240


Buchan, John 120 The Thirty-Nine Steps 120 Bunsen, Baron de 70 Bush, Prof George 82–3 Valley of Vision, or the Dry Bones of Israel Revived 83 Bush, President George H. 195, 234, 275 Bush, President George W. 12, 14, 126, 146, 147, 152, 159, 164, 171, 196, 199, 202, 205, 207, 209, 211, 217–18, 221–2, 225, 233–4, 248, 251–4, 257, 273, 275–6, 278, 281, 288–9 and bible prophecy 254, 275–6 and Israel 164, 211, 217–18, 221–2, 248, 250, 251–4, 275 Calvin, John 29–30 Card, Andrew 253 Carey, Archbishop George 220 Carter, President Jimmy 146, 157, 186, 190, 191 Cartwright, Joanna and Ebenezer 31 Central America 202, 215, 238 Chafets, Zev 286 A Match Made in Heaven 286 Chamberlain, Joseph 106–7, 109, 110, 114, 117 Charles I, King 29, 31, 39 Charles II, King 46 Cheney, Dick 199, 237, 239, 250n, 251, 253 Christenen voor Israel (CVI) 224–5 Christian Allies Caucus (CAC) 20, 219–23, 225, 234, 257, 270 Christian Coalition 194–7, 229, 233 Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC) 161, 210–14, 218, 223, 224, 230 Christian media 158–76, 216, 224–5, 235 Internet 16, 149, 152, 153, 160–1 literature 154–8, 162–3, 166–75, 180, 225, 235, 258–9 television and radio 84, 149, 158–60, 180, 192, 193, 235, 247, 257, 267, 268, 271, 277 Christians 165, 216 Catholic 11, 19, 28–31, 34, 39, 45,



67–8, 70, 72, 81, 83, 85, 187, 204, 215, 232, 240, 286 Eastern Orthodox 11, 19, 67, 72, 94 Reformed (Protestant) 22, 31, 32, 44–5, 68, 70, 83, 85, 87, 98, 125, 138, 142, 162, 182, 202, 244 Baptist 90, 92, 140, 161, 177, 181–2, 186, 206, 238, 239, 247, 264 Calvinist 29–32, 62, 91, 162, 263, 286 Evangelical 6, 41, 54–5, 65–6, 68, 82, 85, 89, 92, 99, 178, 184, 190, 196–7, 201, 202, 207, 224, 230, 233, 238, 243, 263, 268, 274, 286 Methodist 54, 76, 123 Mormon Church of the Latter Day Saints 76–7, 285 Nonconformist 117–19, 122, 128, 132, 234 Pentecostal 206, 268 Seventh Day Adventists 264 Unitarian 55, 82, 117–18 Christians United for Israel (CUFI) 221–2, 234, 247, 257–8, 275–9, 282, 286 Christian Zionism 2–3, 6, 226, 228 and ‘Council for National Policy’(CNP) 197–200, 250, 285 and financial support for Israel 211, 212, 231–2, 234, 267–8, 282 and Holy Land tours 1–23, 149, 160, 192, 224, 226, 229, 243, 266 and Likud 190–4 and militarism 11, 14–15, 156–8, 162–3, 168–71, 178, 181, 185–6, 188–93, 201–2, 205, 215, 226, 249, 274 millenarian aspect of 3, 146–7, 216, 248, 251, 288 and ‘Moral Majority Inc.’187 and Republican Party 184–200, 221, 233–4 and Israeli settlements 3, 187, 191, 193, 210–12 and US foreign policy 5, 172–6, 178, 184, 187, 193–5, 220, 222, 238,

239, 254, 257, 263, 273, 275–6, 279, 282–3 Church of England 29, 31, 32, 34, 63, 98, 99, 123 Restorationist leanings of 101, 123 Churchill, Winston 116 Clifford, Clark 142–3 Clinton, President Bill 159, 166, 193–4, 234, 285 Clinton, Hillary 166, 179, 289 Cold War 145, 154, 156, 178, 201, 206 Concerned Women for America 183 Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations (CPMAJO) 281–2, 288 Colorado Springs, CO 201–11 Cotton, John 42–5, 47, 48, 123 Council for National Policy (CNP) 197–200, 207, 247 Policy Counsel 199 Cromwell, Oliver 31, 35, 46 Crowley, Reverend Dale 146 Culture Wars (USA) 151, 161 Cyprus 106, 110 Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) 154, 183 Damascus Incident 68 Darby, John Nelson 61–3, 67, 75, 77, 80–8, 104, 123, 145, 150, 256 Darwinism 84, 87 Dayan, General Moshe 133, 189, 209 DeLay, Tom 220, 233, 234, 239, 248, 257, 273, 284 Deutsch, Emmanuel Menachem 113 Dickson family 78, 83, 104 Didion, Joan 171–2 Disraeli, Benjamin (‘Dizzy’) 109–10, 114, 119 Tancred 109, 119 Dobson, Reverend James (see Focus on the Family) 200, 207–9, 239, 247, 248 Dome of the Rock 1, 18, 269, 277 Draxe, Thomas 35 The World’s Resurrection or the General Calling of the Jews 35 Dreyfus Affair 100

Index Drummond, Sir Henry 58 Dugdale, Blanche ‘Baffy’ 132 Dunant, Jean-Henri 103 Eckstein, Rabbi Yechiel 231–40, 244, 248, 251, 254, 276, 278, 286 Edward I, King 31, 51 Edward, Prince of Wales 106, 111 Egypt 156, 158, 191, 210 Eliot, George 111–14, 128, 212, 287 Daniel Deronda 111–14 Eliot, John 45 Elizabeth I, Queen 29, 32 Elon, Rabbi Benny 130, 163, 221, 223, 257, 270 Emmanuel College, Cambridge 43 End Times 3, 12, 23, 56, 60, 73, 84, 86, 87, 92, 93, 149–52, 157, 161, 173, 184, 188, 189, 221, 225, 228, 232, 235, 238, 245, 248, 263, 265, 286, 288, 289 Europe, (European Economic Community, European Union) 10, 45–7, 53, 56, 70, 72, 81, 86, 101, 103, 108, 115, 143, 155, 156, 162, 163, 169, 172, 173, 216, 225, 235, 237, 238, 242, 246, 249, 251, 278–9, 289 Evans, Mike D. 224, 260 Falwell, Reverend Jerry 66, 144, 146, 158, 177–94, 198–9, 201–2, 205, 217, 221, 222, 233, 235, 238, 239, 247, 249, 250, 256, 257, 272, 274, 276, 280, 285 and the Moral Majority 187–94 and Menachem Begin 190–3 and Benjamin Netanyahu 193–4 Feith, Douglas 250n, 284 Finch, Sir Henry 33–8, 48, 51, 55, 78, 96, 111, 123, 154, 155, 166, 182, 213, 219, 244, 276, 286 The World’s Great Restauration 28–9, 30, 33–4, 154 Finn, Elizabeth and James 78–9 Focus on the Family 172, 200, 207–9, 239, 247, 248 Ford, Henry 137, 195, 204


Dearborn Independent 137 Fox, Henry Edward 66 Foxman, Abe 195–6, 229, 231, 232, 285 Frey, Joseph 64, 82 Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden 98, 102, 104–5 Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Emperor 55, 70, Fromkin, David 107, 116–17 A Peace to End All Peace 116 Froomkin, Dan 175 Fundamentalism 28, 216, 289 Christian 6, 10, 13, 22, 27–8, 63, 85, 87, 89, 92, 124, 126, 137–9, 151, 158, 161, 166, 172, 176, 177–85, 189, 216, 231, 235, 236, 244, 287 Islamic 5, 10, 22, 139, 156, 175, 202, 216, 223, 251, 271, 278, 287 Jewish 139, 216 Gabriel, Brigitte 278 Gaza Strip 2–3, 19, 152, 154, 208, 212, 217, 223, 228, 229, 238, 248, 257 George III, King 57, 273 German Higher Criticism 84, 87–8, 105, 124–5, 183 Germany 101–3, 105, 124, 126, 185, 271 Gingrich, Newt 163, 285 Giuliani, Rudolph 191, 240–1, 285 Gladstone, William 70, 111 Glashouwer, Willem 224–5 Why Israel? 225 Goeglein, Tim 241 Goldberg, Michelle 153, 216 Kingdom Coming 153 Gorenberg, Gershom 228–9, 232 The End of Days 228 Green, Dr John 196–7 Hagee, John 66, 86, 144, 160, 162–3, 166, 174–6, 184, 191, 221–3, 225, 233, 234, 235, 247, 251, 254, 255, 257, 263, 269–83, 285–6 Jerusalem Countdown 162–3, 222, 258, 274 Nights to Honor Israel 221, 257, 274, 281, 286 Hagee, Matthew 277, 280, 282



Haggard, Pastor Ted 164, 171, 200, 207–9, 241, 267, 285 Halsell, Grace 187, 192 Hamas 9, 17, 179, 227, 230, 248, 257 Hamilton, Jill 117 God, Guns and Israel 117 Haram al-Sharif see Temple Mount Harrison, President Benjamin 95–6, 144, 276 Harvard College 43–4, 48 Hatikvah 8, 13, 129, 277, 282 Hazlitt, William 59 Hechler, William 98–109, 111, 123, 128, 174 Hedding, Reverend Malcolm 215–17, 223, 225, 227, 233 Hedges, Chris 159 Helms, Jesse 192, 250 Henry VIII, King 28 Hess, Moses 100, 113 Rome and Jerusalem 114 Herzl, Theodor 97, 98–109, 113, 114, 123, 128, 165, 212, 228, 287 Der Judenstaat 97, 98, 102, 104, 112, 114 and religion 100 and Restorationism 101 Hezbollah 157, 161–3, 175, 222, 249, 256, 279, 282, 287 Higginson, Francis 42 Hill, Christopher 29 Hindson, Dr Ed 180–1 Hinn, Benny 160 Hitler, Adolf 138–9, 185, 222, 223, 242, 271, 281 Hoenlein, Malcolm 281–2, 288 Holocaust 16, 128, 135, 139, 140, 142, 168, 212, 213, 218, 223–4, 227, 235, 276, 288 Holy Alliance 52 Hromas, Mrs Bobi 187 Huntington, Prof Samuel P. 247 The Clash of Civilisations 234, 247 Hurricane Katrina 150, 178, 241, 254 Hussein, Saddam 170, 173, 221, 237, 242, 250, 284 Ice, Dr Tommy 181–4, 252, 257, 270–1

International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) 161, 214–19, 223, 225, 227, 243 Feast of Tabernacles celebration 216, 217–19, 230 International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) 160, 161, 231–6, 241 Iran 10, 11, 135, 152, 156–7, 162–3, 176, 178, 179, 199, 221, 222, 237, 249, 250 258, 263, 271, 273, 274, 275, 281, 283, 289 Iraq 11, 16, 131, 146, 152, 159, 167, 171, 173, 192, 199, 202, 221, 250, 254, 259, 271, 274, 278, 281, 284, 285, 289 Irving, Edward 59–63, 75, 88, 99, 123, 150, 176 Islam 152, 159, 216 Israel and alliance with USA 206, 242, 247, 254 Kadima Party 191 Knesset 20, 219–23, 228, 239, 257, 270, 274 Likud Party 190–4, 276 and Messianics 244–5 National Union Party 270 Occupied Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip or ‘Judea and Samaria’) 2–3, 12, 40, 190–1, 194, 195, 208, 210, 217, 218, 228, 239, 240 and oil 258–62 and religious freedom 78, 245 West Bank settlements 12, 40, 147, 187, 190, 193, 208, 210, 211, 218, 224, 230, 237, 243, 248, 268 Yisrael Beitenu Party 20, 219, 257 Israel Defence Forces (IDF) 7, 13–15, 132, 201, 224 Israel, Rabbi Menasseh ben 46 Jabotinsky, Vladimir 130–2, 190, 193 Jacobson, Eddie 142–3 James I, King 27–8, 37, 91, 96, 213, 273, 286

Index Jenkins, Jerry B. (see also Tim LaHaye) 167–72, 173, 176, 207 Jerusalem 1, 17–23, 87–93, 120, 123, 187, 189, 193, 216, 218, 237 Jerusalem Summit 216–17 Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) 250 Jews American 81, 120, 129, 138, 141, 143, 147, 188–90, 217, 221, 229–30, 231, 240, 248, 249, 255, 275 ancient Israelites 27, 31, 32, 39, 41–3, 45–6, 120, 128, 131 anti-Zionists 115–16 British 51, 68, 69, 109, 118 conversion of 7, 23, 36, 37, 38, 45, 48, 49, 51, 53, 62, 64, 71, 77, 94, 104, 123, 124, 219, 230, 235, 264, 276 distrust of Christian Zionists 164–6, 188, 228–30, 269 European: eastern 46–7, 52, 53, 54, 67, 69, 79, 99, 103, 107, 111, 113, 120, 160; western 46–7, 53, 67, 69, 99, 100, 115–16 restoration to Palestine of 36, 37, 45, 51, 56, 60, 64, 66, 67, 77, 87, 92, 93, 99, 104, 111–12, 117, 121, 123–8, 153, 182, 218, 231 Jews for Jesus 244 Jews for Judaism 244 Jordan 16, 17, 131, 168, 219, 221, 270 Judaisers 23, 32–3, 273 Judaism 85, 86, 109, 115, 226, 243–4 Christian debt to 30, 109, 111, 116 Orthodox 96, 98, 111, 160, 190, 234, 268 Reform 95–6 Jurieu, Pierre 55, 58 Kadima Party see Israel Kalischer, Zwi Hirsch 114 Derishat Zion 114 Kett, Francis 32, 117 Khamenei, Ayatollah Ali 179, 284 Klein, Joe 250 Klein, Morton 286 Knesset see Israel


Koenig, Bill 161, 251–5, 257, 270 Eye to Eye 252 Israel: The Blessing or the Curse? 253 Kohr, Howard 237, 239 Koresh 264–5 Kristol, Bill 249 Kristol, Irving 188, 249 LaHaye, Beverly 183 LaHaye, Tim 146, 167–75, 181, 183, 186–8, 197–200, 249, 280 The Battle for the Mind 186 and ‘Council for National Policy’ 197–200 Left Behind series 167–72, 192, 197, 202, 207, 236, 245, 246, 263 Land, Dr Richard 200, 237–9 Laud, Bishop William 39 Lazarus, Emma 113 League of Nations 129, 248 Lebanon 157, 162, 175, 193, 208, 215, 222, 235, 256, 284, 287 Left Behind series see LaHaye, Tim Leonardini, Barry 233 Evangelicals, Zionists and Secular Neo-Cons 233 Lewes, Henry 113 Lewis, David A. 191 Liberty University 177–84, 191, 236, 257, 270 Lieberman, Avigdor 257 Lieberman, Joe 240–1 Likud Party see Israel Limbaugh, Rush 173, 199 Lind, Michael 256 Lindbergh, Charles 138 Lindsey, Hal 146, 149–58, 160–1, 163, 170, 172, 174, 178, 179, 188, 191, 202, 205, 227, 228, 235, 239, 255, 257, 263, 280 The Late Great Planet Earth 154–7, 162, 163, 178, 243, 252, 259 The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon 157, 187 There’s a New World Coming 156–7 Lloyd George, David 66, 107, 110, 114, 116–22, 140, 145 and Zionism 118–22



at Paris Peace Conference 120 world-wide Jewish conspiracy 120–2 London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews (London Jews’ Society) 51, 54, 58–9, 63–6, 71, 82, 98, 123, 124 Lott, Clyde 268–9 Lunn, James 56 Luria, Isaac 36 Lurianic kabbala 36, 47 Lynchburg,VA 177–84, 190 Lynn, Reverend Barry 197 Markell, Jan 152–3, 161, 244 Marshall, General George 142–3 Massachusetts Bay Colony 39–49 Mather, Cotton, 42, 44, 48–50, 123 Triparadisus 49 Mather, Increase 42, 44, 46–8, 123, 276 The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation 47 Mather, Richard 43 McAteer, Ed 193 McCain, John 163, 285 megachurches 149, 153, 207, 211, 251, 267, 277 Megiddo 10 Meinertzhagen, Colonel Richard 128 Meir, Golda 259 Melville, Herman 78, 83, 261 Messianics 243–6, 252, 276 Meyer, Christopher 242 millenarianism 4–5, 23, 35, 39, 51, 59, 80, 94, 108, 110, 111, 114, 123, 149, 184, 188, 264, 286, 289 millennialism pre- 59–60, 68, 84, 86, 112, 124–5 post- 59, 68, 84, 125 Miller, William 80, 83 Millerites 80, 82–3, 85, 264 Minneapolis, MN 149–54, 277 Minor, Clorinda 78, 80, 104 Missler, Chuck 1–23, 37, 44, 60, 66, 84, 89, 94, 126, 138, 151, 152, 163, 178, 179, 184, 191, 192, 198, 201, 202, 205, 209, 216, 220, 227, 228, 235, 239, 252, 257, 264, 266, 270, 276 Missler, Nancy 8, 21

Montagu, Edwin 115 Moody Bible Institute 89–90, 92, 158 Moody, Dwight L. 86–90, 92, 95, 123 Mooneyham, Pastor Lamarr 191–3, 235 Moral Majority Inc. 187–94, 197, 249, 285 Morrison, Cheryl 211–12 Morrison, Pastor George 211–12, 221 Mossad 150, 152, 156, 157, 174, 229 Mussolini, Benito 139 Nachman, Ron 210 Napoleon 53, 55, 56 Nasrallah. Sayyed Hassan 287 National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) 159, 164, 171, 200, 207, 241, 285 National Prayer Breakfast for Israel 193 National Religious Broadcasters association (NRB) 159, 212, 234, 252 neo-conservatism (neocons) 188–9, 190–1, 224, 234, 248–51, 276, 278, 281, 284, 287–9 Ness Energy International Inc. 259 Netanyahu, Benjamin 157, 173, 193–4, 208, 210, 215, 251, 255, 257, 271, 274, 281–2, 287 Netherlands 22, 31, 36, 46, 162, 214, 224–5 Newman, John Henry 70 Newton, Sir Isaac 37, 99, 182 Niagara Bible Conferences 86–7, 92 Nicholas I, Tsar 54 Nicholas II, Tsar 104 Nightingale, Florence 66 9/11 5, 146, 150, 161, 164, 170, 173, 178, 179, 197, 223, 234, 235, 240, 241, 247, 248, 254, 257, 271, 288 Noah, Mordecai Manuel 82 North, Lt-Col. Oliver 198 Oliphant, Laurence 110–11, 114 The Land of Gilead 111 Olmert, Ehud 157, 197, 209, 218, 224, 233, 251, 257, 275, 281 Osirak (Iraq) 192, 237, 274 Oslo Peace Accords 193, 210, 219, 229

Index Ottoman Empire (Turks) 2, 27, 36, 45, 51, 52, 67, 68–9, 71, 74, 82, 93, 95, 105–7, 110–11, 119, 121, 124, 125, 234 Overcomers 79 Palestine 27, 45, 51, 57, 73, 105, 110, 119, 121, 129, 135 British Mandate era 89, 108, 128–37, 141, 142, 206 Palestine Place 64 Palestinian’s Arabs 2, 3, 6, 12, 17, 19, 72, 80, 95, 121–2, 129–31, 152, 179, 192, 205, 208, 213, 216, 219, 220, 221, 225, 228, 230, 234, 253, 267, 271; independent state for 6, 40, 211, 221, 228, 230, 237, 239–40, 252–3; second Intifada of 196, 197, 217, 234, 279 Christians 11, 67, 147, 158, 192, 208, 214, 226–8 Palmerston, Lord Henry 66–70, 276 Parshall, Janet 191, 221 Parsons, David 218, 219 Peres, Shimon 237, 282 Petra 93, 94, 189 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 5, 196–7 Philips, Howard 198 philo-Semitism 19, 68, 113, 128, 166 Plummer, Reverend Glen 237, 241 Plymouth Brethren 61, 62, 81, 86, 132 Posner, Sarah 199 Powerscourt Castle Prophecy Conferences 60–1, 86, 183 Powerscourt, Lady Theodosia 60–1, 63 pre-millennial dispensationalism 61–3, 85, 87, 89–94, 109, 124–6, 139, 145–6, 155–6, 182, 188, 190, 243, 256, 286 Pre-Trib Research Center 181, 183–4, 252, 270 Pre-Trib Study Group 183–4 Price, Dr Randall 266–71, 274, 276, 280 The Battle for the Last Days of the Temple 270 Priestley, Joseph 55–6, 117


Project for the New American Century (PNAC) 249–50, 278 prophecy conferences 58–61, 65, 86–7, 127, 149–54, 181, 183–4, 189, 252, 268, 270 Protocols of the Elders of Zion 136–8 Puritans 30–3, 35, 39–50, 63, 65, 67, 117, 128, 184, 241, 256, 286 Rabin, Prime Minister Yitzhak 158, 229, 279 Rantisi, Abdel Aziz 248 Rapture 4, 5, 7, 11, 12, 17, 62–3, 84, 90, 92, 93, 112, 125, 138, 139, 151–4, 161, 163, 167, 174, 178, 182, 183, 187, 189, 238, 245, 258, 259, 263, 275 Reagan, President Ronald 146, 156, 159, 163, 187–8, 192, 202, 229, 234, 241n, 247, 249 Reed, Ralph 233 Regenerators 74–7, 203, 261 Reinstein, Josh 20, 220–1, 257, 275, 288 Religious Right (USA) 5, 14, 20, 21, 146, 149, 153, 164, 166, 167, 172, 173, 178, 183–9, 194–200, 202, 205, 209, 217, 220, 224, 237, 245, 247–51, 275, 276, 284 Restorationism 23, 51–72, 73, 77, 83, 94–7, 98, 102, 114, 116–17, 135 Riah, Bishop Abu al-Assal 226–8 Rice, Secretary of State Condoleezza 249, 251 Riley, Reverend William Bell 138–9, 195 The Protocols and Communism 138 Wanted – A World Leader! 138 Road to Jerusalem 245–6 Robertson, Pat 66, 110, 146, 158–60, 166–7, 174, 179, 184, 187, 188, 191, 193–8, 202, 205, 209, 217, 219, 222, 229, 233, 238, 257, 266, 267, 280 and the Christian Coalition 194–7 Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) 158 The End of the Age 166–7, 174 The New World Order 195



Robins, John 34–5 Romney, Mitt 285 Roosevelt, Eleanor 141 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 140 Rosenberg, Joel C. 172–6, 178, 255, 259, 266, 271 Epicenter 259–60 The Ezekiel Option 172–4, 178, 224, 245, 258–9 Roth, Philip 138 The Plot against America 138 Rothschild, Baron Edmond de 80, 102 Rothschild, Lionel 109 Rothschild, Nathaniel 106 Rove, Karl 196, 200, 253–4 Rumsfeld, Donald 199, 250n, 251, 257, 284 Russell, Lord John 79 Russia (Soviet Union) 52–3, 98, 126, 128, 139, 145, 152, 155–7, 159, 163, 173–4, 178, 188, 189, 191, 210, 216, 234, 236, 245, 257, 259, 282 pogroms in 94, 98, 100, 107, 111, 114, 126, 128, 286 Sabbatai Zevi 46–7, 113 Sadat, President Anwar 156–7 Said, Edward 239 Salisbury, Lord 103, 111 Salomon, Gershon 267–8 Samuel, Herbert 119 San Antonio, TX 86, 160, 175, 199, 204, 206, 221, 252, 257, 271–83 Santorum, Rick 237, 240, 277, 284 Schaeffer, Francis 184–6, 249 A Christian Manifesto 185–6 Schlafly, Phyllis 202 Scofield, Cyrus I. 86, 90–2, 104, 123, 126, 183 Prophecy Made Plain 90 Scofield Reference Bible 91–2, 126, 174 Scott, Charles Prestwich 118–19, 140 Second Coming 3, 10, 38, 44, 59, 62–3, 66, 73, 84, 91, 125, 144, 146, 157, 158, 168, 178, 225, 259, 267 secular humanism 174, 185–6, 194, 197–8, 202, 216, 223

Seddon, Mary 57 Segev, Tom 117, 121 One Palestine, Complete 117, 121 Shaftesbury, 7th Earl of, (Anthony Ashley Cooper) 54, 65–72, 88, 92, 93, 94, 97, 98, 101, 114, 123, 275, 286 Sharansky, Natan 173 Sharon, Prime Minister Ariel 19, 152, 157, 164, 178, 193, 208, 210, 217–18, 221, 223, 228, 229, 233, 238, 240, 248, 260 Sharrett, Moshe 133 Shepard, Thomas 39 Shlaim, Avi 135 The Iron Wall 135 Shoebat, Walid 279 Shtern, Dr Yuri 219, 221, 222–3, 234, 257 Six Day War 2, 154, 170, 189, 202, 212–14, 220, 264 Sizer, Dr Stephen 49–50 Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? 49–50 Smythe, Lady Emily Beaufort 114 Soueif, Ahdaf 287–8 Southern Baptist Conference 158, 200, 235, 237 Southcott, Joanna 57 Spafford, Horatio and Anna 79 Stand for Israel 233 Stanhope, Lady Hester 54 Stelzer, Irwin 224 Stephens, Hayseed 260–2, 268 Stephens, Sha 260–2 Stevenson, Robert Louis 112 Stoddard, John Lawson 97 Stowe, Harriet Beecher 113 Strauss, Professor Leo 249 Suez 110, 238 Sunday, Billy 125–6, Sutton, Dr Hilton 210 Sykes-Picot Agreement 119 Syria 11, 153, 157–8, 250, 278, 281 Taft, President William 137 Tany, Thomas 34 Taylor, Isaac, 83

Index A Natural History of Enthusiasm 83 Temple Mount 1–3, 7, 18–19, 20, 166, 174, 187, 189, 209, 220, 228, 259, 266–9, 272 rebuilding of Temple 4, 7, 18, 21, 36, 56, 62, 94, 97, 101, 168, 208, 220, 258, 259, 265, 268–9, 276–7 Temple Mount Faithful Movement (TMFM) 267–8 Temple Mount Institute 18, 268–9 ten Boom, Corrie 225, 260 Texas 147, 194, 206, 209, 236, 252, 256–83 Tribulation 4, 62, 63, 91, 93, 94, 104, 126, 127, 138, 139, 152, 174, 182, 189, 216, 238, 245 Troup, Kimberley 213 Truman, President Harry S. 66, 140–4, 145, 238 Tuchman, Barbara 116 Bible and Sword 116 Twain, Mark 76 Unger, Craig 185 United Nations (UN) 2, 10, 11, 141–3, 146, 167, 182, 190, 192, 193, 213n, 219, 249, 250, 254, 257, 282 Unity Coalition for Israel 161 van der Hoeven, Willem 214–15, 225, 227 Vanunu, Mordechai 226 Vatican 226 Vester, Mrs Valentine 79–80 Victor, Barbara 217 Victor Emmanuel II, King 104 Victoria, Queen 68, 110 Viguerie, Richard 187, 198, 200 von Eulenberg, Ambassador 105–6 Waco, TX 263–5, 288 Wagner, Cosima 116 Washington, George 96 Washington, Dr Raleigh 245–6 Watt, James 188


Way, Lewis, 51–5, 57, 67, 68, 70, 92, 96, 102, 123, 128, 143, 287 Weber, Timothy P. 188 On the Road to Armageddon 188 Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C. 128–36, 144, 152, 168, 246 Weinberger, Caspar 188 Weizmann, Dr Chaim 114–22, 127, 131, 133–5, 142, 191, 232, 234 Trial and Error 116, 142 Welles, Orson 156 Weyrich, Paul 187, 197 Whitman, Walt 89 Wilberforce, William 54, 65 Wilhelm, II, Kaiser 101–3, 105–6, 121, 125–6 Wilson, President Woodrow 122, 125, 137, 140, 248 Wingate, Orde 132–5, 144, 189, 246 Winthrop, John 40, 41, 49, 241 Wolff, Joseph 58, 60, 65 Wolfowitz, Paul 191, 231, 284 Woolsey, Jim 250n, 278 Wooton, Pastor Willy 241 Wordsworth, Dorothy 59 World Wars First 110, 118–22, 124–7, 185, 234 Second 39, 183, 206, 225, 279 Ya’alon, General Moshe 279 Yale University 44 Yisrael Beitenu Party see Israel Young, William 67, 70–1 Zangwill, Israel 72 Zell, Mark 210 Zionism 2, 23, 97, 101, 104–8, 112–16, 118, 127–36, 139, 140–1, 212, 220, 225, 228, 240, 281, 284, 286, 287, 289 Zionist Congresses 1897 103 1903 107–8, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) 183, 221, 229, 250, 286